Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Not your mother's high school

--by Juliet

The writers’ community is a little like high school. Only fun.

For years I thought no great adult could possibly have liked high school. I thought this because I, myself, was hopeless in high school. (I know, right? Who could imagine such a thing? Me? Not cool???)

I didn’t fit in. At all. I didn’t have the right clothes and my hair didn’t feather properly and I didn’t think Stairway to Heaven was, like, the bitchin'est song ever. Adolescent sullenness and mindless pranks seemed lame. To my mind drugs made people boring, and the thought of having sex with one of my classmates made my skin crawl. I used to skip school in order to audit classes at the local community college because at least there the lectures were interesting. Or I skipped in order to paint or read or…gasp…hang out with adults. Yeah, I was *that* kid.

But back to the writers’ community as high school. It’s more fun, since you don’t actually have to go to class or take finals, and most of us are no longer too worried about acne. But in some ways, it’s a lot like high school: just about everybody knows everybody, or at least they know *of* them. There’s continual gossip about who’s sleeping with whom, and who’s acting like a dick, or who lost their advance and got dropped by their publisher or flipped out at a low royalty check. We hang out in the halls and gab, then some of us sneak out for smokes while others stay after and get extra credit…

And there are little cliques, but unlike real high school, here just about everybody has an “in” crowd to join. There are the cozy folks and the noir folks and the romance folks and the thriller folks and the literary folks. The great part is: we all secretly think we’re the in-crowd. And we are, for our readers and for each other.

When I first got swept into the Pensfatales by Sophie (you may have known her in high school: she was the one gorgeous cheerleader who was not only whip-smart but also nice, and who deigned to speak to underlings like me in the halls), I felt the thrill of being accepted into a group at the highest echelons of coolness: these great women writing romance and suspense and mystery and erotica. And each one so freaking awesome I could barely stand it. Since then we’ve shared fears and failures as well as dreams and successes. We do homework together and talk about boys and rant about The Man bringing us down. And then we each chocolate or organic peaches.

It is the sort of friendship never threatened by graduation. I am so sitting at the cool kids’ table this time around.


Barbara said...


L.G.C. Smith said...

I love this post. With you completely. :)

Sophie Littlefield said...

i love that we can now steadfastly assume that the pens table is the coolest kids' table in *any* room, no matter how many luminaries lurk nearby. and ps, i could've outgeeked *any* of y'all back in the day!

Zombie Joe said...

Zombie books aside Ms. Littlefield, you surely couldn't have outgeeked me back in the day! ;)

I never could understand the people who are well into their 40's now and are still trying to capture the "magic" of the "glory days." I have to deal with one or two of my classmates that are still stuck there. Not directly, thankfully.

Of course in how you put it here, Juliet... yeah, I totally got to have lunch at the cool kids table after the RT book fair this past weekend. ;)

Juliet Blackwell said...

So sorry I missed RT with the cool kids!!

Rachael Herron said...

Awwwwww. Verklempt.

Adrienne Bell said...

There's not a soul alive that could have outgeeked me back then. End of story. That's why I cling so tight to the cool Pens table now.

Gigi Pandian said...

Were we really all geeks in high school? I love it! As a former theater geek, I have to say high school had its moments, but I'm having much more fun now :)

Anonymous said...

Dammit. I was not a geek in high school and I may have spent a bit of my time there as Queen Bee. BUT, in my defense, I was also that person that audited community college classes and never did drugs. So maybe I get honorary geekness??? Bottom line, you can't kick me out of the Pens. I know where you all live (especially you, Julie, one day you're gonna wake up to find my name on the lease) and I own a stunning collection of throwing knives.

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