Not to pull a Chris Farley, but do you guys remember that time we got interviewed by the Huffington Post? Yeah, that was AWESOME. Well, our fabulous interviewer Rebecca Serle is here with her smarty pants on to share a highly scientific look at what it REALLY TAKES to be a YA writer. Prepare thyselves for this harrowing account of procrastination and, more importantly, good snacks.
I am a YA writer and so is my friend, Leila Sales (yes, THE brilliant Leila Sales, author of Mostly Good Girls). On Sundays, we write together. Not the same book, although we're considering doing that. We'd definitely write a book together if we could come up with a concept.
Me: Maybe we should write a dystopian trilogy parody.
Leila: Like you'd think it was dystopia but then, psych! It turns out to just be high school.
Me: Would there still be a dead girl, though? Teens are really into dead girls.
Leila: It's unclear.
It is a daily challenge, being us.
In the meantime, we're working on our own novels. Here is a sneak peak into a day in our lives.
Time: Sunday. Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York 2:00 pm
I go over to Leila's apartment around noon. And by noon I mean 2 pm (we are into writing, but we are more into sleeping).
First we have to break down the weekend. Topics include but are not limited to:
1. Why our friend is still marooned on a desert island. Did he get married? We check his blog for updates.
2. Which of our friends is tallest. This is actually very important and causes some debate. We agree to disagree.
3. The diagram we made that charts which of our publishing friends have made out with one another. After Friday, we need to update it.
Where is the Brita? We must always locate the Brita before we start writing. It is very important to be well hydrated.
It is time to prepare our snacks. We need adequate snacks while working. It is the only thing that keeps us in our chairs. Leila likes to say that it is her ultimate goal to become so obese that she will essentially be wielded into her chair, and will have nothing to do but to write. This seems unlikely to me. I bet I could still come up with an alternative activity.
I cut cucumbers, peppers, and carrots while Leila makes apples with peanut butter. We are chefs. We set everything down on our writing table and admire our handiwork. Then we take a picture on my smart phone and mobile upload it to Facebook with the caption: "Writing day!" We tag each other. Then we comment on it.
We place our matching white MacBooks across from one another, with the food in the middle. We take another mobile picture but decide not to upload it. We are busy and important writers. We have no time for Facebook. This reminds me of a story I need to tell Leila about how I saw a friend of ours on the way over here earlier and she told me to "enjoy my day."
Leila and I spend five minutes laughing at this girl's naivete. We do not enjoy our day. We WORK THROUGH our day.
We sit down, sigh a few times, and open our Word documents. Then I look out the window for approximately five minutes. It helps me get into the world of my book. Also, there is a cute guy who usually jogs by around 4:15. Looking out the window is the new multitasking.
I hear Leila's fingers hit the keyboard and immediately feel exhausted. I must go lie down on her couch for ten minutes. Luckily, her roommate has a subscription to Glamour. I should write for Glamour. I tell Leila. She agrees.
I'm working on a scene in which my main character is talking to a boy. Since I never talked to boys in high school, this is proving difficult.
"What do girls want?" I ask Leila.
"I think they're into music," she says.
"You're confusing them with guys," I say. "Guys are into music. Girls are into other things."
Leila and I have spent a good portion of the last six months researching what teenage guys are into. We don't know that many, so much of our assumptions are based off her agent, who is thirty, and our dads, who are old. The problem is now all our teen boy characters wear blazers and watch Mad Men.
"I was watching The O.C. last night, and I learned that girls like dudes who are confident," Leila says.
"Yeah, but confident dudes in high school are just arrogant."
Leila eyes me like I'm withholding information. "How do you know that?"
"Vampire Diaries," I say. She seems satisfied with this response.
Leila's roommate, Katie, comes home and asks us "how it's going." We glare at her. This is a completely inappropriate question to ask, KATIE. IT'S NOT GOING WELL.
Leila reads aloud something funny she has written and we high five. We are very into high-fiving.
I've just hit a rhythm when I get thirsty. The Brita has gone missing! I spend about twenty minutes hunting for it around the apartment. I finally find it positioned behind a stack of magazines. To reward myself, I flip through them all.
Me: Everyone in my book keeps looking at each other.
Leila: Everyone in my book keeps piping up. How many times can someone "pipe up" over the course of twelve pages?
Me: See how many times they look each other square in the eye and divide it in half.
Writing is really a numbers game.
Leila gets up and goes to the freezer, which means it's chocolate chip time. I love chocolate chip time.
She comes back with a bag of chocolate chips and we eat them compulsively for the next forty minutes. At which point, I have about three pages finished.
Chocolate chips may make you sick, but they're a very effective writing strategy. They are like the poor, straightedge man's cocaine.
I ask Leila when we will finish. We have been working since noon! I remind her. She gives me a pitying expression.
We check our word counts. I'm surprised to find out I've topped mine from last Sunday. Leila and I high five about it.
I make my way to the subway to head home. I feel nauseous, mildly exhausted, and I have to pee.
Word count: 1,500
Hours spent achieving word count: 6
High Fives: 13
Brita re-fills: endless.