Sarah Dessen… and Me

Hey everyone! I’m really excited to share with you my review on Sarah Dessen’s “The Truth About Forever.” But that will have to wait a day or two or more. Because I’ve realized I haven’t really talked much about Sarah Dessen on here, or my writing. If you’ve been reading my monthly book lists, you can clearly tell how much of her books I have been reading ever since I discovered What Happened to Goodbye in my school library. She has so far written a total of twelve young adult novels, in which I have managed to hunt down and read all of. (Yeah!)

*Pats self on back*

I’ll update you all with an overview of my thoughts on them soon, as well as which I strongly recommend. Before I post my review though, let me first tell you how special Sarah Dessen is as an author and what she has done for me as a reader. It was in November 2014- not so long ago- that I begun to read Sarah Dessen’s work. And all of her narrators- Mclean, Auden, Sydney, Macy, to name a few- seemed to speak to me, their worlds and problems recurring in my mind. It was Sarah Dessen who made me push my expectations of myself as a writer and reader to further venture into the world of YA, as well as try writing for it. I never imagined myself writing in this realistic fiction style, because when I thought about my writing, it was Harry Potter-like.

Recently I attended the fifteenth annual Rochester Teen Book Festival. The main reason- Sarah Dessen would be there! I went to hear her speak alongside Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay. (Ally Condie was at the festival as well, author of Atlantia and the Matched trilogy). When they were accepting questions, I kept quiet; an observer rather than a presenter. I silently let others ask questions and listened to their answers. One person asked Sarah and Gayle what type of books they liked to read. And this surprised me: They both agreed that they weren’t huge fans of fantasy novels. But then Sarah went on to say that she had complete respect for fantasy writers, because not only did they have to create up a whole new world, but then had to write a story and plot into that setting. She said that it was like she was cheating, because she could just set her stories into a world she already knew, which is why her books are classified as Young Adult and Realistic Fiction.

It got me thinking. Maybe, I was just going to big too soon. It’s not to say I could never write a story in a fantastical world, because it’s possible. But for now, perhaps I’d better begin with what’s familiar. My world. This world. So I ditched my last document in return for a clean slate. Don’t worry- I wasn’t too far into it anyhow. But I have to say, this new story is really getting me excited. I can feel myself coming up with lines that just seem to click, in the way that suggests I am finally doing something right. I can feel myself laughing at my own work, which is either great or a bit sad, I haven’t decided yet. But either way, I can sense a breakthrough in my writing, one that is telling me I’m doing it, oh my goodness I’m doing it!

So yes, there was a huge influence on that behalf, and it was Sarah Dessen. Without her books and her words and that book festival, would I have discovered my inner-writer as its true form? Well, probably. But one thing’s for sure- without Sarah Dessen, it would’ve taken a lot longer to get there.

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