Good Afternoon, Readers! I hope you’re enjoying you day 🙂 Today I have the author of OCD Love Story and the recently published Life by Committee, Corey Ann Haydu who is sharing her thoughts on loneliness, one of the themes of Life by Committee. Just as a preface, this post actually made me tear up and is a HUGE reason why I bought the book I can relate 100% to Tabitha and the experiences Corey describes in this post (small schools can really suck). I hope it speaks to you as much as it did me! -Patrice
I wrote a book about loneliness.
I wrote a book about loneliness at a time in my life when I was very lonely about a time when I was very lonely.
Writing can be really lonely anyway, but I wrote LIFE BY COMMITTEE while I was going through a big break up so it was written in an extra-lonely moment. We get a little used to loneliness, being writers, and sometimes it’s even sort of nice. My apartment is big and with no one else in it I could eat a lot of cheese and watch a lot of Gilmore Girls. Sometimes I’d be out with friends who were working hard to distract me from my loneliness, and I’d leave early thinking, no. I’d rather be lonely. LBC is a book that matters to me partly for that reason. I felt very cuddled up with Tabitha, both of us in our lonely little moments, supporting each other from a far. We understood each other, her and I.
But being lonely at 28 is easier than being lonely at 16. Or it was for me. Being lonely at 28 meant I tried to learn how to use a slow cooker and I abused my Netflix account and I started being more interested in what red wine was the perfect red wine for this type of pasta or this type of chicken or this type of sadness. Being lonely at 28 was satisfying. I had earned it. I could tolerate it. I had a therapist, after all.
More than that, I could complain about it to friends. Which maybe meant I wasn’t so, so lonely after all.
It was not, ultimately, the loneliest I have ever been.
The loneliest I have was in high school. Like Tabitha I had really great friends. Like Tabitha they stopped being my friends because I’d changed. Like Tabitha, I didn’t really feel like I’d changed.
That kind of loneliness was worse. It wasn’t satisfying. I didn’t feel like I’d earned it. I didn’t know where it had come from. I didn’t choose it or feel that it would be short-lived. I didn’t have a slow cooker or red wine or Netflix.
I had the aching sensation that I was unprepared to do it by myself. I had a not great boyfriend who everyone loved and no friends. I couldn’t hide in a room with my loneliness and cheese and coffee and Gilmore Girls. In high school, you have to walk around with it all the time. In hallways. In dress code khakis and the wrong shoes. You have survive with it in this constant way.
There comes a point, at a small school, where you’re not even wishing X or Y or Z person would be your friend. You’re not motivated to make some Herculean effort to change things. You know all the people, you know their friends, and you know that’s not going to happen. You know you’re stuck and that you won’t be unstuck until high school is over.
Or, if you’re me, you become a foreign exchange student and go to a country with a language you’ve never spoken before and live with a family who speaks that language and go to a school that operates in that language, and you do loneliness there. And it feels a little different because there’s risotto for lunch and centuries old cathedrals and girls in track suits and boys with shiny black hair and there are white stone roads and marble statues and the promise of Venice only an hour away.
But it’s still loneliness. And there’s still the expectation that you shouldn’t be feeling loneliness. Because you are in Italy and there is gelato on every corner. And your failure makes you lonelier still.
And these aren’t happy memories or even hopeful ones. I went all the way to Italy and I couldn’t shake the loneliness. I fell in love and couldn’t shake it. I wrote a book of vignettes and took self portraits and was Ophelia in Hamlet and Laura in the Glass Menagerie and Oliver in Oliver and I couldn’t shake it, except for those moments on stage, where I was being someone else, or those moments writing the vignettes, where at least I was being me.
I intended this to be a post about the loneliness of being a writer, and maybe it is. Writing helped, in the sense that I at least had myself, and when I wrote, I felt connected to at least that person.
And I’m lonely sometimes now, even though the break-up is over and life is pretty good. There is a loneliness that comes with full-time writing. You are by yourself, and in it alone and stuck with your thoughts and sometimes there are breakups and family tragedies and fights with friends and feeling misunderstood. But there’s the work. And there are tiny things you are in control of. Coffee, wine, cheese, Netflix, the color of your bedspread and how soft it is.
And there is the loveliness of sadness. And the relief—great and huge and overwhelming and heartbreaking—that you are not in high school anymore.
About the Author
Corey Ann Haydu is a young adult novelist currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Her first novel, OCD LOVE STORY, is coming out July 2013 from Simon Pulse. Her second novel, LIFE BY COMMITTEE will be out in Summer 2014 from Katherine Tegen Books at Harper Collins.
Corey grew up outside Boston, Massachusetts where she learned a deep love for books, cheese, cobblestone streets, cold weather and The Gilmore Girls. She has been living in New York City since 2001, where she has now developed new affections for New Yorky things like downtown bookstores, Brooklyn brownstones, writing in coffee shops, the Modern Love column in the Sunday Times, pilates, leggings, and even fancier cheeses.
Corey graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she got her BFA in Theatre. After college, Corey worked as an actress and playwright (and waitress and telemarketer and real estate broker and nanny and personal assistant) She also spent a lot of time in Starbucks writing short stories.
After working in children’s publishing for a few years, and falling in love with YA literature, Corey received her MFA from The New School in Writing for Children. During graduate school Corey rounded out her list of interests with mochas, evening writing workshops, post-it notes, bi-weekly cheeseburgers, blazers, and board games.
About the Book
Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.
Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.
Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe. Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own. But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?
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