My face hurts from smiling.
I feel like I’ll never find another book I love as much as Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, and I am devastated that I’ve finished it. It usually never takes me longer than a day or two to finish a book; however, I purposely took over a week to finish Levi and Cath’s story. I used my entire stack of orange sticky notes for this, and I don’t regret any one of them.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever related to a character as much as I related to Cather. I recently wrote about my freshman year experience, and I did so because I received my college diploma in the mail. I also was reminded of how painfully hard it was for me to be a freshman while reading Fangirl.
Cather Avery is a writer, but she doesn’t believe she can create her own world from her own words. I was in Cather’s position a year ago. I remember the first day I spent in Tom Franklin’s Fiction-Writing class; I was petrified after he let us know only publishable stories would earn you an A in his class. I thought about dropping Fiction-Writing, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be as good as the other writers around me. My class was filled with real writers; publishable writers.
Tom wasn’t fond of the first story I turned in, and I didn’t deserve for him to be proud considering I turned in an excerpt of a story I had written for my Beginner’s Fiction class. I was so afraid of starting something new; I was Cather. My day came for my classmates to critique my story, and my palms were sweating. I had been writing for days; I had been trying to come up with a story for weeks until I finally stumbled onto something. I had never written anything like Virago before; it wasn’t full of Faulkner sentences. It was straightforward and dangling on the edge of too much dialogue. And the only thing I remember Tom saying was, “only a sophisticated writer would write this.”
Rainbow Rowell is sophisticated; she is simple. She doesn’t need sequins or diamonds for her words to stand out, and that’s why I love her writing. I’m not sure I’ve ever read an ending so simply written; I’ve never smiled so much at an ending. I smiled at all her words.
“It’s just… everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter-and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.”
There are people who learn that my major in college was English Literature who look at me differently. Some always have a snarky comment to make; some people always somehow find a way to tell me I worked so hard for pointless degree. It doesn’t matter how much I love words, and it doesn’t matter that books changed my life. They tell me ‘good luck with that’ and smirk. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me, because I’ve cried plenty of times over it. But, the thing is, I’m a writer. I’m going to make it as a writer, because I have these stories in my head that don’t go away until I write them down. Because people have told me I am talented. It’s so hard to do what you love when it’s categorized as belonging in Liberal Arts, but I know that if you really believe it can happen then it will. And it doesn’t matter if you’re published or not; what matters is that you just keep doing what you love because it feels so good.
“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”
Rainbow Rowell writes love stories, and what I love about them is they aren’t overzealous. She shows readers that love doesn’t have to be dramatic, and she shows readers that the greatest love stories don’t have to end badly. They can end so purely; they can end so simply. I used to be petrified that I would only ever write love stories. So many people seem to look down on them, but that’s what I write. You write what you love, and there’s nothing I love more than reading about two people finding each other. I write love stories, and it makes my heart so happy. Because happily ever after really is the “most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”
“Just… isn’t giving up allowed sometimes? Isn’t it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?”
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”
I’m just in love with Rainbow Rowell, and I’m so thankful that she helped me without even realizing it. We can’t avoid things in our path because they will be hard or because we will get looked down on. I’m so, so happy my friend, Alison, forced me to read Eleanor & Park, because I would have never picked up Fangirl otherwise, and I would have missed out on so much. I want to sit on the floor and read this book every day for the rest of my life, and that’s so magical.
And like I said, I almost gave up Tom Franklin’s class because it was going to be hard, and because I was afraid he would make fun of me for writing love stories. And I’m so glad I didn’t, because, had I quit, I would have read this:
“Alex – Well, this is an excellent opening to a story. I’m eager for the mother-in-law to visit. You write excellent dialogue and use drama well. Excellent prose. Let me know if my notes need explaining. – TF”