I’ve been wanting to start a novel with the line “It’s about a girl” for a long time. Now, with manicpixiedreamgirl, I can cross that off my list. Because as a teen . . . man, everything was about a girl.
Turns out, this is the most autobiographical of my novels so far. Which is to say, like, five percent autobiographical. It is not a true story in the sense of it being nonfiction. Party and Zero were maybe two or three percent “true,” in terms of things that happened to me personally. But with manicpixiedreamgirl, I went a lot farther (further? Gah, who can keep those straight?) into my high school experience than in my previous novels.
So, yes, it’s about a girl. I mean, what else is high school supposed to be about if not young/first/thrilling/doomed love?
There’s two parts to this novel. There’s the semi-nostalgic, somewhat-regretful, true-ish part, where I got to relive those formative years and inspirations all over again, and that was fun. It stung a little, too, when I took the time to realize that, yeah, I was pretty much an idiot on my best days, and far worse on my worst days. Still—we had a good time, and everyone pretty much turned out okay. (Which is not the same as saying “No one got hurt.”)
Then there’s the grown-up, now-I’m-a-dad, author part. That’s the part that I want people to really take home. It’s the part that’s not so much about the protagonist, Tyler, but about his “dream girl,” Becky.
There are a lot of Beckys out there. Guys and girls both who are willing to do pretty much anything to make the pain stop for a minute, or feel like someone at least knows they exist.
If you’ve read Party, you might think of Becky Webb as who Beckett Montgomery could have become had not things gone differently that night in Santa Barbara. Like so many of us, Becky is lost and abandoned and shattered. When we reach that point, no matter what our age, we often start doing things to ourselves not easily taken back or undone.
I’ve been there. Maybe you have, too. If you know what I’m talking about, then let me tell you this, too: Don’t give up. It gets better.
I hope you enjoy the story for the story itself. I hope you laugh at Tyler (and at me) for being such a doofblatt most of the time. (His heart’s in the right place, I think, but he’s also, you know . . . a boy, so.) I hope that, if you haven’t already, you find your own dream girl/boy someday, like I have.
And I really hope that, on those days you feel like these characters, you’ll at the very least remember you’re not alone. ’Kay? Cool. Take care.