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Birch Bay Public Market

Friday, May 10 through the end of summer, Cathy and I will be selling her hand-made soaps, lotions, and toiletries, along with my photography, note cards, calenders, books, etc.

Come see us!

Across the street from the C Shop

4825 Alderson Road, Birch Bay, Washington 98230

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I had an automated blogroll here, powered by Google Reader, but Google, in its near-infinite lack of wisdom, killed Google Reader. Prior to this murder, all I had to do to put a blog on my blogroll (or to take it off) was to place it in a Reader folder called, appropriately enough, "blogroll" (or, of course, to remove it). I use The Old Reader now for following blogs, but it seems to have no way to something similar regarding the blogroll. If you know of a way to do this, please let me know.

Why I Write What I Write

In which I am ordered to explain myself.

I got an email yesterday in which it was explained to me that I am not writing about “real life.”

Jillian’s Gold features a high-school girl who has a very clearly defined “Big Black Line” across the path of sexuality that she will not cross until she’s married. In Stubbs and Bernadette, Bernie is so scared that her brand-new boyfriend will dump her over her no-sex attitude that she can barely even bring it up with him. In Cursing the Cougar, Morgan is so firm in her beliefs that she goes through a string of first dates looking for a boy who will honor her stance and share it.

This isn’t real, my reader says. No one waits anymore. No one. High school students have sex. All of them. I don’t have to write about them actually having sex if I don’t want to, but if I’m writing about kids in high school, then I’m writing about kids who have sex, and it’s unreal to pretend otherwise.

But I got another email yesterday, too:

“Love that they waited until marriage!!! <3 to see a clean book out there! Too much garbage out there and pregnant 14 year olds.”

Now, I’m not saying that sexualized young adult fiction leads to sexualized life. I don’t think it’s that direct. Nor am I going to say that fiction is simply a mirror, that it shows you an accurate image of real life. But I agree with the second reader – there’s certainly enough fiction out there that presents the sexualized view of things. And I respectfully disagree with the first reader – I don’t think you can simply assume that all high-schoolers are sexually active.

A little background on why I might think I might know something about high-schoolers:

Besides having been one, I mean, since that was when dirt was young. I sent my first kid off to high school in (if memory serves) 1996. That was fifteen years ago, and I’ve had at least one child in high school during each of those fifteen years. All six of them have been very active in extra-curricular activities (by unified parental mandate), including sports of various types, band, orchestra, choir, art, etc. I’ve gone to a lot of high-school sports events, concerts, art shows, and so forth, and I’ve served as an unofficial team photographer for years. I’ve had these kids around me not just once in a while, but two or three times a week, some of them over and over for four years. I’ve seen them at school and at events and in the mall. I’ve had them in my home and in my back yard.

And I, patient and careful observer that I am, can assure you that there were those among them who were not sexually active.

Those are the ones I’m writing to.

The ones who think they may be crazy, because everyone around them is saying sex is just a game, go play it. The ones who think there may be some true and magical power to the feelings that rise like a tide now and then. The ones who fear there may be a right way and a wrong way, and that you might find out which is which too late. Those are my readers.

I want to tell them that it isn’t crazy to wait. I want to tell them there’s nothing wrong with them. I want to tell them that the consequences of waiting are simply that you waited, while the consequences of not waiting may drag you under forever.

Because there really are consequences. Even if you don’t end up pregnant, or the boyfriend of a pregnant girl, there are consequences. Even if you don’t catch some embarrassing or fatal disease. Even if you don’t end up married too soon, to the wrong person, for the wrong reason.

Even if all you ever feel is the certain and eventual knowledge that this one is the right one, that this one is the one you should have waited for, that this special person here and now is the one who should have had all of that. All of it, from the very beginning.

The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost. –Arthur Miller

In other words, it’s all about the consequences. I don’t believe that sex is dirty or unnatural, or that it’s not something to be talked about. In fact, as you can see from the sub-themes of the books mentioned above, I’m quite willing to talk about it. I simply believe that it is something best left until the right time, and that adolescence is not that time.

I feel compelled to point out that sex and its proper time and place are not the main themes or plots of these books, but since they, and to some extent or another, every book I’ve ever written, are about finding your true self and then remaining faithful to that true self through all of the storms and tides and slings and arrows along your path, then to that extent, they are about making choices that will not bring you cause to regret them.

Here’s something else Arthur Miller said, something else I hope to be saying through my books:

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.

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