teenage dreams – #WhatImWriting

It’s been half term this past week and having three kids with me full-time has not been conducive to getting any writing done. I did manage a silly limerick and a ghost story on the blog, but not much else.

Rather than try and extend this un-exiting news into an entire blog post though, I thought I would do something different for this week’s ‘What I’m Writing’. Get ready to cringe!

You see, the other day while scrabbling through a huge pile of papers that I haven’t looked at in years, I found this:

I dot my 'i's

Yes, it’s the title page of an old manuscript of mine. As a teenager I harboured dreams of being a romantic novelist and, as luck would have it, so did a friend of mine. So together we created the genius flouncy pen name ‘Hebe Laroche’ and set about writing our first novel. We must have been about 13 or 14 when we began and were very much influenced by the American ‘Sweet Valley High‘ series (remember those? All 152 (!!!) of them?) We wrote it on and off for a couple of years before it stalled at Chapter Six, although I do have a plot synopsis for most of the rest of the book.

Our central character Andi (who introduced herself by spelling out her name and then simpering “I dot my ‘I’s with hearts” – what were we thinking?!) was a rather drippy girl who met Chad, a gorgeous, rugged, rich-boy and was swept away by his charms. Here’s the not-at-all cheesey *cough* description of when she first lays eyes on him:

meet chad

‘Penetrate her very soul’ Ha! And there was much more of such guff to come. In fact many of the scenes were laced with overly-romantic, flowery prose:

Classic soppy teenage writing-style, yes? We did however, manage to create a likeable best friend and a lovely family for Andi to be part of. So it’s not all bad. Well… ok, it kind of is but there’s maybe something there amidst the flouncy-words.

Reading it now, what I’ve enjoyed most is the fact that we clearly came back to it a fair few years later – late teens maybe – with more life experience. There is then a clear conflict between how we think we should be writing – dreamy and romantic – and how we actually want to write, so later bits of the manuscript are littered with sentences where we are clearly taking the piss out of our own writing style. The best part of this is, the sentences appear at random, slap bang in the middle of a romantically-written passage. Since I’ve completely forgotten writing them, they take me by surprise and make me laugh every time.

For example, Andi receives a romantic parcel to her family home on Christmas morning. Imagine the typical clichéd romantic build-up to this moment. Think what beloved, dreamy Chad might write on a red, heart-shaped label floating atop an array of silver ribbon spirals on an exquisitely-wrapped festive gift…

That’s actually the least risque example I could find (I didn’t want to have to put a warning on this post). Honestly, in places I am quite shocked by our late-teenaged selves!

Our later edit also includes a lot of scrawled notes in the margins: “More fun, less shit”, “This is just jiz” and the quite straightforward “PANTS”.

Anyway, I’ve now thoroughly embarrassed myself so that’s quite enough of all that.

You know what’s really embarrassing though? That somewhere, deep down in my heart-of-hearts, I’d love to finish our book. Ok, the title would have to go, and Andi would have to buck up her ideas and well, yes it would need to be totally different in every way but imagine if our teenage dream could come true?  Never mind your chiseled-jawed hunk, there’s something worth getting all misty-eyed over.

Writing Bubble

22 thoughts on “teenage dreams – #WhatImWriting

  1. Mummy Tries

    Oh Maddy, I don’t really know what to say. You clearly wrote this with such enthusiasm – all those exclamation marks and intricate descriptions of everything! I’d be keen to see you finish it off, you never know!

    The night after I met my Andy another girl called Andi tried to steal him away… and she introduced herself by spelling her name out. She didn’t stand a chance ;-)

    Lovely honest piece xxx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      I’m laughing at the idea of someone trying to steal your fella by spelling her name out! Haha – at least she didn’t dot her ‘i’s with hearts though! And you’re right about the enthusiasm – I think it would be hard to re-capture as old a cynical as I now am! Thanks for commenting and linking to #WhatImwriting xx

      Reply
  2. Emily Organ

    You know what? There are books written like this selling today! I genuinely think it’s a good effort for teenagers and you kind of knew you were writing a little bit tongue in cheek anyway. You obviously put so much time into it. I think you should finish it if you ever find the time, and I just love the pen name Hebe Laroche! It’s a funny coincidence I dug out some old writing to look at for my post today too.

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Emily. Long-buried manuscripts are obviously the theme of the day! Finding the time to finish it would be an issue. We’d need to massively overhaul it but part of me would love to fulfil the Hebe Laroche dream. Thanks for commenting and linking up xx

      Reply
  3. Iona@redpeffer

    That made me laugh out loud, it really did. It sounds like something I would have written at that age, although mine was interspersed with a lot of angst! Emily is right, there are books being written in just this style now and being read. I say, do it. Definitely finish it and I absolutely love the pen name. Thank you, this really made me smile :)

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Glad I made you laugh iona! Good old Hebe – glad you like her name. Scary to think books like this are being written though. Perhaps there are a lot of teenage novelists out there? Thanks for commenting and linking xx

      Reply
  4. Chrissie Metcalf (Kristina)

    Finish the damn book. Also, I wanna see more of the risque! This is much better than the chaff I wrote at 18/19 even (maybe even now, who knows!) I really think you should finish it. Maybe even make the whole thing a tongue in cheek poke at certain aspects of YA?

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      I like the idea of a tongue-in-cheek version. Not quite sure how we’d manage it but it is an interesting idea. as for the risque, there are some things I just wouldn’t put on this blog but I did enjoy the bit where it said “Andi greeted the christmas season with mounting Chad excitement.” I quite liked that. Thanks for commenting Chrissie xxx

      Reply
  5. Lisa

    Oh this is truly amazing. My favourite bits are “penetrate her very soul”, mainly because the use of the word “penetrate” and also “who is he?” breathed Andi. Because I don’t think anything I’ve ever said could possibly be described thus. Day made.

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Haha – Thanks Lisa! Andi ‘breathed’ an awful lot of things. She was that sort. I didn’t have anything in common with her really. I also enjoyed the penetrating line. Glad to make your day. xx

      Reply
  6. Nicola Young

    I love the sweet valley high influence with the classic American figures, Andi and Chad. How cool to dig out some of your old stuff. I think it’s great.

    Reply
  7. Sophie Lovett

    Amazing! And, at risk of being repetitive, eminently marketable I reckon. I used to love Sweet Valley High, even though I distinctly remember thinking at the time that it was totally twee. Definitely an audience out there for tongue in cheek teenage romance, especially if there’s a dose of risqué thrown in! X

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      It was totally twee, yes! But I think that was maybe part of the charm. I’m now trying to work out how I can blend the risque with the twee and write something people might want to read… Thanks for commenting xx

      Reply
  8. Rachael

    I love this! Hebe LaRoche. Gorgeous. I would have had an equally flowery pen name, I think. You’ve made me want to find my teenage manuscripts now…. Not sure I’ve even got them still…. Oh, and I have very fond memories of Sweet Valley High. Did you know they made it into a TV series? It was a guilty pleasure for a while even though I’d long grown out of it!

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Oh yes, you must dig out your teenage manuscripts – and share! I’ve never watched the SVH TV series but it sounds like the perfect guilty pleasure! Thanks for commenting Rachael xx

      Reply
  9. Jess Paterson

    Maddy, you could so run with this! I used to love SVH, and the natural progression, Mills & Boon. Definitely a big market for it! I think it’s lovely to find old pieces of work – although If I ever find my teenage novel I think I will cringe for days! Cracks me up your late-teenage edits. Great post. x

    Reply
  10. Donna Navarro

    I had a little chuckle Maddy! Only because I loved it! It took me right back! SVH was ace! Hebe Laroche is a fab pen name!! So decadent! I was reminiscing just this last week about some (rather dark) poetry I wrote as a teenager which was published in some literary mag, which I can’t for the life of me remember the name of. I think it was a rather short-lived publication! You know, I actually love the title ‘I dot my I’s with hearts’ – I think it would be really interesting to take the same title and see it where it takes you now!

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Donna! I’m impressed you had some teenaged poetry published – I think if mine had ever seen the light of day I would never live it down! I Am quite fond of the pen name I have to admit although the title was problematic as it made Andi so twee! Still, if we ran with it, who knows what we might think up! xxx

      Reply

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