Dear Teen Me,
Remember last Christmas Eve when your big sister had a nervous breakdown? Remember how awful that night was, when she was trying to race out the door to Midnight Mass, wearing only her nightgown, and your father was screaming at her, trying to drag her back inside the house and up the stairs? Remember how you sunk into the wall that night, wondering what these two strangers were doing in your house?
Well, the pain of that experience will never fully leave you. But one day, almost thirty years later, you’ll write a poem about it. And when you read it aloud to your poetry teacher, she’ll say, “Put that one in the folder.” And the poems in that folder will eventually turn into your first novel in verse for teens, STOP PRETENDING.
That’s right. You aren’t going to be a filmmaker when you grow up. You’re going to be an author. And after your first novel is published, you’ll receive the most beautiful e-mails from hundreds of teens who have friends or relatives with mental illness, thanking you for making them feel less alone.
Which is one reason that being an author is gonna totally rock. Another reason is because you will get to rewrite reality.
Take last month, for instance—when you were standing on that street corner after the school dance, waiting for your mom to pick you up. Remember how that drunk guy grabbed your boobs and squeezed them? How he and his friend cackled and high-fived each other, and you just stood there feeling so powerless and invaded? Well, guess what? Someday you’re going to put that scene into a book called WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW. You’ll make the same thing happen to your character, Sophie. Only Sophie won’t just stand there like an idiot. She’ll sock that bastard in the chin and slam her foot into his buddy’s shin. And it will feel great.
Remember that huge secret F kept from you? Remember how you felt like your whole world was collapsing when you found out about it? You’ll put that into a book someday too—TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story.
And just before that book is published, someone will ask you to write a letter to your teen self. And you’ll put it off until the very last minute because you won’t be able to think of what to say.
But then—it will hit you:
Don’t worry, Teen Me. Every hideous thing that has already happened to you, or is going to happen to you, will someday inspire you to create another story. It may feel unbearable while you’re in the middle of it, but time will pass and you’ll begin to heal. Then you’ll write about it. And revenge will be sweet.
So keep on pouring your thoughts and feelings into your journals. It’s great practice for what’s to come. Keep on gushing it all out onto those clean white pages. Tell the truth in those journals. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. (But be careful your mother doesn’t find them, or you might not live to be a grownup.)
Sonya Sones has written five YA novels-in-verse: STOP PRETENDING, ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES, WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW, its companion WHAT MY GIRLFRIEND DOESN’T KNOW, and TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST (A Novel Based on an Untrue Story) which was released on August 27th, along with The Sonya Sones Collection, a three-book box set of trade paperbacks including WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW, one of the top 100 most challenged books of the decade (to find out why, please see page.46). She lives near the beach in Southern California. Visit her at SonyaSones.com, follow her at https://twitter.com/SonyaSones, or friend her at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sonya-Sones/175441839174257?fref=ts.