March 11, 2009

Jennifer Banash's 20s Were a Hot Mess


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.

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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 clichĂ© 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.

Book Cover

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.

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Book Cover

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.)

31 comments:

  1. Wow, Jennifer! It seems like you went through a lot in your 20s. But it looks like it all has ended well and you're enjoying your life now! Cheers!

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  2. That is one heck of a decade Jen! But to get to where you are today, I'm sure those lessons are quite valuable! =)

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  3. You are so rocking it, Birthday Girl. What a fantastic month you are giving us.

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  4. Holy Cow! That was a long chain of horrible events, but it mad Jennifer into the writer she is today. Fantastic! Great guest post! Hopefully your 30s will not be quite as trying.

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  5. Any one of those things that happened to Jennifer would have driven me into a hole with a blanket over my head. The rest of us readers are blessed that she kept picking herself up and moving on! Many congrats on your success, Jennifer!

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  6. wow, Jennifer, you went through a lot. I am glad you came out the end an amazing author. hope your concussion gets better soon!

    i am a follower

    i blogged it
    http://kissmybook.blogspot.com/2009/02/contests-galore.html

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  7. Wow - so much happened during your 20s! That was a really cool way to structure it, having each point/paragraph leading into the next. Glad you came out on top as a better writer!

    And feel better soon from that concussion. =)

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  8. :) I'm in my twenties and hope I get to do as much as you did! :) Great post to an awesome author!

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  9. I loved reading this blog entry. THE ELITE and IN TOO DEEP sound like fascinating books and I would love the chance to win a set!
    wandanamgreb AT gmail DOT com

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  10. What a great post. I am glad you made it though the 20's but it looks like you also got a lot out of it. Thanks for sharing.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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  11. Wow, what a crazy decade you had. But it all got you to where you are now!

    wishonstars13@hotmail.com

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  12. Man, and Iowans are considered to be one of the nicest people! As an Iowan, I apologize for your accident and injury! :)

    cecilia | cecpham(at)gmail.com

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  13. Thanks, everyone!

    Cecilia: You are right--Iowans totally rule :)

    xo
    JB

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  14. Wow your twenties were quite the decade. It helped make you who you are today though.

    msboatgal at aol dot com

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  15. Wow, inspiring & I love what you said about writers needing that time. And I could see myself saying the same thing about going to school in Iowa & all the time to write. Wow! So glad you shared this!

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  16. Wow, so much happened in your 20's! Oh my gosh, how the heck can you live without cell phone or TV reception?! That would be like pure torture for me!

    I would absolutely LOVE to win your books, I've been wanting to read them for the longest time!

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  17. This was an awesome post! Not going to lie, many times I tend to skim through, but I read each point and loved it!

    And I would looove to be entered!

    just1linmichele@aol.com

    I also became a follower and posted a link to this blogpost on my blog!

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  18. Wow!! that IS insane. lots of experience though, good and bad, and overall...I suppose that's all good. if that makes sense. :)

    No need to enter me. I have both!!

    -lauren

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  19. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by! BTW Mitzy - I'm sure we're all guilty of skimming sometimes. But all the posts I've put up are worth reading.

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  20. Blogged: http://bunnymoney9.blogspot.com/2009/03/woohoo.html

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  21. I totally relate to the unemployable graduate thing... I wish I didn't, but I totally do. I think it's time to look at those good ole' grad school apps.

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  22. Thanks Jenn for sharing your story. I don't think any of us would trade the things that happened in our twenties for anything. Or our teens for that matter. Especially if you are a writer!!

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  23. What an eventful decade the 20s were for you! Those would be interesting stories for the future grandkids to listen to :)

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  24. And I have also linked at http://senalovescandy.blogspot.com/2009/03/sweet-contests.html

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  25. At least you can say that you didn't have a boring life, eh? And you came out of the whole experience as an established author.

    ~ Popin

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  26. Wow, you went through a crap load of stuff! I bet breaking your back changed some of your views on life.

    -follower

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  27. I crashed my car too and messed up my spine. It sucks. I'm a follower.

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  28. I'm sorry about the bad things that you experienced in your 20s, but it seems like it's better now! I hope that someday I can experience the feeling of being an author, holding my first book.

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  29. Jennifer I can totally relate to bad luck! I've gone through a ton of junk including geting married and divorced young, but atleast you followed your dreams and it looks like it worked out! Hopefully I can accomplish some of my dreams too. And your books sound great and I love the cover of "in to deep" Thanks.

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  30. Happy birthday?

    Elie

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  31. not sure how i came to this blog, but it was great reading about your 20's! I'm currently in my 20's & reading that makes me feel more..accepting of my life. I'm hoping to become a distinguished writer as i grow older!
    -glenn from Toronto

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