May Your Creativity Runneth Over, a guest post by Charlene Thomas
I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been capable of doing so. I wrote my first “book” when I was in third grade—twenty-seven wide-ruled pages of a baby-blue spiral notebook, that my desk-mate kindly dubbed as “incredible.”
From there, I kept on going—dreaming up story after story and I haven’t stopped since. But writing is hard, it’s complicated, and it’s scary. One of my biggest fears for a long time was what if I run out of something new to say? What if I run out of ideas, or plot lines, or characters who feel real enough to write about?
If creativity is a well, can the well run dry?
When I was in college, I minored in creative writing. And one of my teachers in one of those classes paraphrased a John Gardner quote that I’ll never forget. She told us that, at the end of the day, there are really only two types of stories—either someone goes on an adventure, or a stranger comes to town—and, really, those are just the same stories told from two different perspectives.
It’s metaphorical, of course. But still—it was incredibly liberating to me. The point being that it’s not so much about trying to think up a story that’s never been told before every time you sit down to write. But that it’s about figuring out how to tell that story in your own way.
To get there, one of the things I’ve really attached to is structure. I love playing with structure. I love reading books that play with structure. I love challenging myself with new ways of twisting a story around so it’s a little less linear, chronological, predictable than it might otherwise be. It’s my way of reassuring myself that I’m telling a story my way. That that’s what makes it different—special—from what I might have done before.
My debut novel SETON GIRLS tells two stories, side by side, to reach a single reveal. On one hand, there are the “What it is” chapters that are taking place in the present, and on the other hand, there are the “What it was” chapters that are taking place (for the most part) a year before the “What it is” chapters begin.
In SETON GIRLS, I use my “What it is” chapters to showcase Seton’s present-day—an uneasy environment where an accusation about the team’s quarterback has rocked the utopia that Seton once was. And I use my “What it was” chapters to reveal what Seton used to be—a shiny diamond that was deeply tarnished beneath the surface. Those two storylines weave together to unveil the secrets that Seton has been hiding all these years, and by the end, the “What it was” chapters take readers right up to the point where the “What it is” chapters began.
It was hard to stitch things together this way. In essence, it was like writing two different stories that needed to exist as one. But it’s probably one of my favorite parts about this book, the part that makes it truly feel like it’s mine. And being creative about how I told the story helped unlock my creativity around what the story, itself, could be.
I’m so excited for this book to reach readers. I hope with all my heart that I can transport them to the complicated world of Seton Academic High School and inspire them in moments where they may need it in their own lives. And just as much, I’m so excited for this book to reach writers. To possibly spark an idea for them that so many incredible books have sparked for me. I’d love to believe that as long as we have each other, we’ll never run out of ideas.
So, may your creative cup runneth over.
Meet the author
Charlene Thomas started writing as a child, so she’d have more to read after she’d gotten through all the books on her shelf. She was sixteen when she wrote a manuscript that won the National Novel Silver Award from Scholastic Books and went on to minor in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University. Charlene writes books about the world we live in, inspired by her experiences growing up in Montgomery County, MD. She has a deep-rooted belief in people and what they are capable of, and maybe that’s why she loves to create big characters who are steadfastly determined to change their own little parts of the world. When Charlene isn’t writing, she works as a marketer and will at times reassure herself that a long session scrolling Twitter counts as “research.” She’s always itching to learn more about what it is to be human, whether it be through international travel or reading a book that feels like magic. She loves happy hours, reality TV, and words that give her chills, and her family and friends mean the world to her. She earned her MBA from Emory University, and holds a certificate in digital marketing from Cornell University.
About Seton Girls
A smart and twisty debut YA that starts off like Friday Night Lights and ends with the power and insight of Dear White People.
Seton Academic High is a prep school obsessed with its football team and their thirteen-year conference win streak, a record that players always say they’d never have without Seton’s girls. What exactly Seton girls do to make them so valuable, though, no one ever really says. They’re just “the best.” But the team’s quarterback, the younger brother of the Seton star who started the streak, wants more than regular season glory. He wants a state championship before his successor, Seton’s first Black QB, has a chance to overshadow him. Bigger rewards require bigger risks, and soon the actual secrets to the team’s enduring success leak to a small group of girls who suddenly have the power to change their world forever.
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 08/30/2022
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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