If you've ever been to my blog before, you'll recognize this guest. Her visit was a little delayed, but here's the fabulous Jennifer Banash. You can read my reviews of THE ELITE and IN TOO DEEP as well as Banash's Fashion Week guest blog and interview. You can find out more at The Elite site, Jennifer's blog or MySpace.
If I’m being completely honest with myself, I have to admit that my 20’s were mostly a hot mess. I went through every 20’s cliché you can think of—and then some! But in order not to bore you to sobs in listing all of them, along with the inevitable After School Special moment about “what I learned from my experiences,” instead I will offer up a list of the best/worst moments of that amazing, yet massively confusing decade that is your 20’s. See what you have to look forward to? Aren’t you excited LOL?--
1. I got engaged at 22. A massive mistake. I cancelled the wedding twice before I went through with it—which really should’ve told me something, right? I was waaaaaay too young to be seriously contemplating the concept of “forever.” My wedding was gorgeous—hundreds of people, out by a lake in June, fabulous wedding cake that I only ended up having one bite of :( Which was followed nine months later by the inevitable
2. Divorce. It was messy, and I was heartbroken. So heartbroken that I would cry at Fed Ex commercials and every time I walked by a baby in a stroller. It was Not. A. Good. Time. But, like much of life, horrendous events are sometimes tempered by fabulosity, and my early 20’s were really when I became
3. A writer. I had always written, but my 20’s were when I made the decision to start taking writing seriously. It was also when I moved from writing poetry to fiction, which was horrendously difficult for me. I was used to thinking in sentences and sometimes only WORDS, and now I had to have an actual NARRATIVE. Good grief. But I loved loved loved it every challenging minute of it.
4. I worked tons of crappy, menial jobs in order to support myself as a writer while finishing my degree at Arizona State. The phrase “Do you want that to go?” should’ve been tattooed on my forehead. I wrote at night when I got home—sometimes until 2 or 3 AM. I sleptwalked through my days, and those precious evening hours were the only time I really felt alive.
5. After graduating I realized that I was umm . . . qualified to do absolutely nothing, and that all I really wanted to do was to read and write anyway. The thought of a corporate job made me want to climb out of my own skin. So I did what every unemployable 20-something eventually does—I applied to
6. Graduate school. In the middle of Iowa. It will be fantastic, I told myself, there will be nothing to distract me from writing! There’s NOTHING there TO distract me! There are COWS there! I will be one with nature! I will plant a vegetable garden, adopt a dog, and become as serene as Buddha! The only problem was that upon arriving in Iowa I managed to
7. Crash my car and subsequently broke my back in the accident. Welcome to Iowa! It sucked majorly, and I spent the next 9 months in a back brace, healing. I had to put off school for a year, and I was going out of my tiny little mind with boredom—I lived on a farm outside of town with NO phone, and NO TV reception (I know, I know—you are wondering how I survived. I still wonder myself). All that time string at the ceiling, alone with my thoughts led to
8. The writing of my first novel! I was so bored that I pounded it out in nine months. It got me my first agent, and although it's never been published, I hold it close to my heart as the process of writing it taught me how to construct a narrative. I would not be the writer I am today if I had not written it. When I finally entered the Ph.D. program the following year my life was reduced to
9. Teaching, partying, and writing. I managed to do all three simultaneously, and found out that I LOVED teaching literature. While the doctoral program was spirit-crushing and heartless, I lived for those precious moments in the classroom with my students. Now that I teach 9th and 12th grade at a private school in sunny California, I still do. :) Teaching is as much a part of me as writing, and I doubt I’ll ever give it up entirely.
10. I wrote my first published novel, HOLLYWOODLAND, which led to a call from a major publisher who’d read my novel, asking if I’d ever written YA. Might I be interested in ghostwriting a bestselling YA series? Without even thinking twice, I immediately said yes! Two years later, I was holding THE ELITE in my hands, and I couldn’t have been prouder. It was a long, sometimes torturous road, but my 20’s taught me something valuable in that in order to really succeed in my writing, I really had to go off of the beaten path and not worry so much about what was “normal” for my age. Writers need pant loads of time to dream, to be idle and unproductive, and although I wasn’t financially solvent for most of the decade, my 20’s gave me that.
Jennifer has agreed to giveaway a set of THE ELITE and IN TOO DEEP! Follow the rules and you could get lucky! (And judging by some of these stories, we need some luck.)