The Dreams of Youth

This picture will make sense later. Also: Unicorn!

I’m in the Book 2 bunker right now, but I wanted to emerge, blink owlishly at you, and share a little inspiration. I was warned that Book 2 is tougher than Book 1 and it’s absolutely true. I made it through the early drafts of Shadow & Bone by telling myself that no one would ever see it, stop fretting, just finish. Now that I have an editor and an agent and a deadline, that trick doesn’t work so well. But lest I get too whiny or  succumb to my signature Crippling Paroxysms of Self-Doubt (TM), I keep this bit of awesome nearby (click for details):

This is a sketch that I came across recently while cleaning out the basement at my mom’s house. (For more horrifying artifacts of my youth, check out Delicious Cringe and learn why boys are like horses.) It was done by my BFF Gamynne when we were 14 years old and it’s a great reminder that I should SHUT UP because I am quite literally living a lifelong dream. My favorite things?

  1. The plunging neckline (prescient)
  2. The fact that she put a gigantic Clancy Brown in the signing line. (I like to think Clancy Brown has better things to do with his time, but maybe he really loves Young Adult fiction and/or plunging necklines.)
  3. My chic sunglasses. I assume that she was going for John Lennon specs but maybe I was blinded in some kind of industrial accident? Worst after school job ever.

In case you’re wondering, the title of the book is A Penance for Ratboy, so named for a deeply unpleasant guy who ran roughshod over my 9th grade year. I’m not going to name him here because this is the internet, and creepy boys can grow up to be creepy men with collages on their walls and an extensive collection of hunting knives.

In one of my all-time guilty pleasures/favorite films, Tim Curry dons ginormous horns to play a character known only as Darkness and tells the heroine of Legend: “The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity.” (If you do watch this clip, I advise you to STOP after :45 because then he gets all sappy and completely goes off the rails. Note to villains: If you’re looking to seduce a princess, try not to sound so damn needy.)

Big Red’s words are subject to interpretation. He may well mean that getting what you want isn’t always a good thing or that all choices made in pursuit of a dream have consequences. He may also be talking about the importance of keeping a dream journal to record the thoughts in his pointy, pointy head. But he may just be saying that the problem with dreams is that when they don’t come true, they can break you.

The gap between between the hopes you had and the life you end up leading can be a very dark place indeed. It can leave you feeling bitter and lost, and pretty soon you’re blogging about how no one understands your genius and ordering a tombstone that reads, “Had potential.” But I present the sketch above as evidence that sometimes, after a lot of wrong turns and flailing, you do get what you’ve always wanted most– whether it’s a promotion, or a chance to dress up as a pirate for a living, or The World’s Best Piece of Cake.

I will spare you the never give up, never surrender pep talk. Life happens. Responsibilities happen. And sometimes the timing just isn’t right. But sometimes you get lucky and the dreams of youth become the awesome, unbelievable reality of maturity. So suck it, Darkness.

7 Comments

Filed under Writing

7 responses to “The Dreams of Youth

  1. Same boat. Book 2 is hard, dude.

  2. Oh, my goodness, I saw that movie in France when I was very young and I think Tom Cruise and unicorns in French warped me even more than they would have in English. I would like to now watch it again so I can yell “Suck it, Darkness!!” at the screen.

    You have no TM on the self-doubt, lady, but this is a testament to getting over it in style. Amen, sister.

  3. Yeah. I feel a slumber party coming on.

  4. Oh my gosh, you had a Ratboy too? Mine was from my junior year and he made me cry at prom…his name was technically RatBowie, because he looked kind of like David Bowie, but also like a rat, which I apparently liked at the time…

    Anyway, if it helps, I have utter confidence that you will make Book 2 even better than Book 1. And now I have to go watch Legend.

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  6. Pingback: Tales from the Book 2 Bunker |

  7. Pingback: Leigh Bardugo: Author of The Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising

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