I've been drafting an outline for a book I want to write sometime soon. I've always wanted to write about the 'now' of my life - being twenty-something, single, urban, spoiled, and ultimately very confused. Something that captures the angst (and the ridiculousness of that angst) of being in your mid-twenties and trying to grow up while simultaneously praying to God that you can hold onto your youth. It's a funny time. Currently my novel is set on the eve of a 5 year college reunion. It seemed like the perfect catalyst for a person to think about their life and I'm just coming off of my own 5 year college reunion. It's a great time - most people don't have children and only a handful are married or engaged. It swirls up a lot of feelings and leads to some pretty awkward, but universal interactions. Yet, I struggle with what the book is really about and how to create a compelling story arc. What am I trying to say? How is the beginning of the character's journey different from the end? What am I really writing about?
Every day, I read a million blog articles and this one from Feministe caught my eye recently - On Friendship. It opens up with a quote that really struck me, from another article by Anna Holmes called The Age of Girlfriends.
"The raw thrill of both “How Should a Person Be?” and “Girls” (and let me acknowledge here that I am hardly the first person to compare the two) is in the way they treat heterosexual coupling as secondary, and how they depict the profundity of female friendships, not to mention their real perils—which are quite different from the competitive jockeying that is so often imagined. It is other women, not men, Dunham and Heti seem to be saying, who most impact the evolution of girls into women. Other women, not men, who provide the opportunities for self-expression and self-discovery. Other women, not men, who bear witness to the triumphs and tragedies of young womanhood. Other women, not men, in whom we both find and lose ourselves."And BAM. There it is. That is what I've been looking to explore - that is the journey I want my character to go on, because it's the journey I've been on. I know I blog a lot about my desperate search for a boyfriend who will turn into a husband and all the missteps in between. I do a lot of crazy things to get there - my crazy sexcapades and misguided attempts to make bad relationships work - but at the end of the day, my life has always been about my friendships, especially those with my female friends. The men I have dated have shaped some minor aspects of my personality, but let's be real - the closest, most intimate, most memorable relationships I've had in my life have been with other women. I look at my best friend and the relationship that we have together and it's meant more to me than any man I've ever known, dated, slept with, or pined over. I honestly don't expect that to change anytime soon.
My friendships have made me the person I am and if I ever meet a man who makes me want to break down all my walls and settle down, he will owe a huge debt to the women (and a few men) who taught me how to love and made me a worthy human being. That's what I need to write about. That is what I need to explore. Those friendships - how they grow and change us, how they shape us, and how sometimes they break our hearts more than any man ever could.