I posted to my Facebook account last night that I was listening to NKOTB, and for those under the age of about 33, that would be New Kids on the Block who are the 80’s equivalent to the modern-day boy band: Big Time Rush. I also wrote about how just listening to the song, “Please Don’t Go Girl,” made me smell the sweet sweet scent of my youth: AquaNet (pink can) and an over abundant use of Drakar. A friend kindly sent me a private message and said I was “dating” myself, meaning I was giving away my age. I laughed and responded that it was okay, and that I was comfortable in my middle-agedness and looked forward to hitting the big 4-0 when I could finally attend the Cougar Convention in Vegas (remember I told you all to have goals? Cougar Convention is one of mine).
As I was scanning my manuscript this morning I came to a certain clarity: It’s okay to pick on myself. I noticed it oozing from my writings. In one book I talk about an old VW that was twenty shades of rust that looked like and felt like it was having seizures the second the ignition turned over. Hey, I actually owned that mode of transportation, except it wasn’t rusted over, but the seizures part was true to form. I wrote somewhere else on the joys of riding the city bus with two toddlers, a diaper bag, and a double stroller…also all true.
Finding events in my life, especially the ones I’d like to hide in the closet, are the best ones to expose. Yes, I listened to Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, they were my Brittany of the 80’s and 90’s. And okay, so I owned the Michael Jackson jacket with a gazillion zippers across it and the white sequenced glove. I admit it, and I’ll write about. I’ll write about the time I went parasailing in Acapulco and nearly landed on a souvenir hut. Or my near drowning experience during a kayak excursion at Pismo Beach, CA. I’ll go so far as to say that even though San Fransisco is only a five-hour drive from my home, it took me three days to get there and one Blair Witch encounter and that near drowning experience in the process (a hilarious story by the way).
When I write I have to put my experiences out there and sometimes that means picking on myself: yes I had a t-shirt that said, “Relax.” Yes, I knew every step to, “Wake me up before you go-go.” And yes I wore a zillion black bracelets like Madonna and pranced around in a lace dress with double black studded belts like Cyndi Lauper. I also bleached out my hair then shaved one side of my head to get the Tony Hawk skater do. I mean, I look back at pictures of my child hood and think…of course I’m going to pick on that. It’s freaking hilarious. Far be it from me to not expose the world to the Purto Rican-Mexican-redneck-hick I have evolved into today via my hilarious, neon colored, aquanet scented, Doc Marten wearing, Kriss Kross listening, cruising down the highway laughing at the “Scrubs”, war face painted past. Toot toot <– me honking my own horn. Of course where I grew up it was more of an “awoooga.”
In conclusion: It is perfectly okay to pick on yourself. It builds character and if you’re a writer it can build your book’s character via your own personal quirks. I laugh at myself and so, sometimes, I laugh at my characters and the things they say, do, and think, because I lived those times. And when people read my stories and laugh I don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, I feel proud to have survived the neon rainbow, backwards pants, Culture Club years with a sense of humor. I look forward to more great years full of follies and antics that I can build into my novels in the the future. And with the family I live in…oh, there will be so many more fun stories…they should get royalties, but when my book sells 500, I’ll buy them Shakey’s Pizza and mojos instead.
Have a blessed, creative writing day and bring back NKOTB