Ask Lucille Lang Day - Thursday, March 14th! discussion

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message 1: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
Hi Everyone,

Good morning! I am here and am looking forward to your questions.

Best wishes,

message 2: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
To start the discussion, I'd like to say a little about why I wrote Married at Fourteen. In addition to getting married at fourteen, I was a juvenile delinquent and teen mother, and I wanted to show the point of view of a troubled teenager. In the first half of the book, I try to recapture what I was thinking and feeling between the ages of 12 and 19, and show how I gradually changed and matured. Most readers understand what I'm doing here, but unfortunately, I've found that some are confused and equate who I was as a troubled kid with who I am now.

Why bother with what a troubled kid is thinking and feeling? I wanted to upend the old stereotypes that say teen mothers have no future and juvenile delinquents become adult criminals. I think that, in general, who we are as teenagers is not necessarily who we are as adults. Redemption is possible, and no one should be dismissed based on their behavior as an adolescent.

message 3: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Mindock | 2 comments I really enjoyed your book Lucy. How long did it take you to write this book and what made you decide to tell your story?

message 4: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Mindock | 2 comments From your post, you already answered the last part of my question. So, just share how long it took. When you do your readings, what are some of the most interesting questions asked of you?

message 5: by Lucille (last edited Mar 14, 2013 12:25PM) (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
Hi Gloria! One answer is that it took me about 21 years to write the book. I started working on it in January 1990, and it was accepted for publication in December 2010. However, I did not work on it continuously for 21 years. It went through several revisions, and sometimes I put it away and didn't look at it for years. For example, I didn't do anything with it between 2000 and 2007--seven years! But each time I'd go back to it, I saw things in a new way and got ideas for improving it.

Another possible answer is that I worked on this book for about 33 years, because when I started the memoir in 1990, I incorporated two autobiographical short stories I'd written in the 1970s, as well as material from an autobiographical novel I'd aborted in the 1980s. Once I decided to use this material in nonfiction, I simply took out the fictional elements and stuck to what actually happened.

One question I'm asked a lot is "How did you have the courage to write this?" All the time I was writing, I didn't feel I was doing anything courageous; I was simply telling my truth. It wasn't until I started getting reviews and online responses to excerpts that I understood that some people were going to judge me negatively for the things I did as a kid, regardless of what I've done and who I am as an adult. I had hoped to upend the stereotypes about juvenile delinquents and troubled teenagers, but for some people I am just reinforcing them. Oh well! I do have many fans, so I have no regrets about having written this book.

message 6: by S.A. (last edited Mar 14, 2013 01:08PM) (new)

S.A. Lutzky (AnnCL) | 4 comments Hi Lucille - I have a couple of questions. First - have you had the opportunity to learn how young readers have responded to your book? It seems that your book would be such a good "friend" to girls. The way your book recaptures your thinking when you were a teenager feels so on-the-mark.

message 7: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
No, I haven't had any feedback yet from young readers. Teenagers did select me to be interviewed on a radio program for teens, but it was an adult who interviewed me. I hope that teenagers who read my book will be able to discuss it with an adult who has also read it. As a teenager, I shoplifted, cut school, carried a switchblade, ran away from home, smoked, drank, and had sex, and I wouldn't want a young person to come away from the book thinking I am advocating any of these things. On the contrary, I am trying to show that all of this behavior turned out to be counterproductive, and that I had to find a totally different way of existing in the world in order to become a happy, fulfilled adult.

message 8: by S.A. (new)

S.A. Lutzky (AnnCL) | 4 comments Your answer actually leads to what was my next question. The book shows a truly memorable and amazing transformation - worth the read even if you weren't the talented writer that you clearly are -does the "former" teenaged Lucille ever appear and take part in your real life of today - inner and/or outer life, that is?

message 9: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
Yes, the former, teenaged Lucille is still there inside me, putting in her two cents and affecting the things I say and do! Although she no longer leads me to do things that are illegal or self-destructive, she is still stubborn, determined, and skeptical. She does not give in or up easily, is highly goal-oriented, and does not believe everything she reads or is told. Her goals are now much more appropriate than they used to be (for example, finishing and publishing my memoir), and her will is now tempered by a lot more concern for others and the ability to think logically that I've developed as an adult.

message 10: by S.A. (new)

S.A. Lutzky (AnnCL) | 4 comments Thank you, I find your reply here like the story in your book: both specific to one person's very unusual life, and yet at the same time universal. And I think of something I heard (that an Italian author told her daughter) - don't ever get upset about birthdays, because we will always contain all of the ages that we have ever been, speaking to us as voices inside. Also makes me think about the new research on brains, specifically teen-agers - how they just plain think differently from other ages, with different logic and attitudes toward risk-taking.

message 11: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
Yes, I believe that teenagers do indeed think differently from adults. I know that in my own case, just gathering more experience changed my attitudes and my interpretations of events: I began to see things differently. But also, as the brain research shows, the teenage brain is still developing and the wiring for the most complex reasoning is still forming. So a teenager who thinks he or she is being perfectly logical might well reach a different conclusion just a few years later.

message 12: by S.A. (new)

S.A. Lutzky (AnnCL) | 4 comments Have to go now, thank you, Lucille. And for writing this book. I believe it is going to be enjoyed, as well as be of great help,to many. I wish that it will become a catalyst for discussions in high schools and other groups of teen-agers It will bring so much benefit!

message 13: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
Getting back to the question about the interesting questions I've been asked, another one is "How do you remember so much?" The answer is that the process of writing actually triggers memories and makes me remember more than I would otherwise. It's like looking at a photo and remembering what happened that day, or hearing a song and remembering things about your life when you used to listen to it. If you think about a movie you've seen or a book you've read, it's very likely that the more you think about it, the more you'll remember. It's that way with your own life, too, and the process of writing about your life makes you think about it a lot and therefore remember more and more.

Other questions I've been asked concern how to prevent juvenile delinquency and what to do once teen rebellion starts to emerge. These are questions like, "I have a 10-year-old daughter. I hope she won't use drugs or get pregnant as a teenager. What can I do to prevent it?" Or "I have a 14-year-old daughter. Her grades are slipping and all she seems interested in is boys. What should I do?" Here's my advice: for either the 10-year-old or the 14-year-old, make sure she's in a safe school environment and that no bullying is going on. Bullying is likely to make a child or adolescent want to avoid school and might also cause depression, anger, and other negative emotions that will interfere with her schoolwork and affect her behavior. Also, make sure that the 14-year-old has a trusted adult she can talk to honestly and openly about her feelings and concerns. If she is rebelling against you, you might not be the best person for her to talk to right now. A teacher, counselor, therapist, physician, minister, aunt, uncle, or older sibling might be able to fill this role. Finally, give the 10-year-old ample opportunities to engage in sports, art, music, and other extra-curricular activities that build self-esteem and relationships with others. Such activities, if carried into her teen years, will help ensure that her time will be devoted to constructive endeavors, and research shows that teens who are engaged in sports tend to be concerned about their health and their bodies and are therefore less likely to smoke, drink, or do drugs. It's not too late to encourage the 14-year-old to take up a new activity!

message 14: by Lucille (last edited Mar 14, 2013 04:10PM) (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
S.A. wrote: "Have to go now, thank you, Lucille. And for writing this book. I believe it is going to be enjoyed, as well as be of great help,to many. I wish that it will become a catalyst for discussions in hig..."

Thank you, too, S.A., for your comments, for joining the discussion, and for asking such great questions.

message 15: by Nina (new)

Nina Serrano | 3 comments I wonder what lead you to writing for children. Do you plan to do more of that?

message 16: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
Hi Nina! Chain Letter, my children's book, started out as a poem for adults. That poem, "Letter from St. Jude," is a humorous, satirical chain letter that came about as my response to a real chain letter I received that threatened me with all sorts of dire consequences if I broke the chain. The editors from Heyday, my publisher, heard me read this poem at a poetry reading and immediately envisioned it as a children's book. Of course, I was all for this idea! Heyday hired an artist to illustrate the book and it did, indeed, turn out to be engaging for children. I have other poems I'd like to make into children's books, even ones I wrote initially with children in mind, but I don't know anyone who will illustrate them on spec. I think I'd have a better chance of publishing them as children's books if I could show publishers the illustrations as well as the poems. I dedicated Chain Letter to my first two grandchildren, and now I have two more, and my younger granddaughter tells me that I must also write a book for her and her little brother, so I hope I can do this.

message 17: by Nina (new)

Nina Serrano | 3 comments How do you approach writing for children- in contrast with your writings for adults?

message 18: by Nina (new)

Nina Serrano | 3 comments This may be a repeat because i am not sure if you received my question. How do you approach writing for children in contrast with your writing for adults.

message 19: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
I think it's important for a poem or story for children to have a happy ending. Also, I try not to use too many words that they won't understand. I think it's okay to challenge them to stretch their vocabulary a bit, but it doesn't work if they have to ask the meaning of every other word. Finally, I avoid sexual and religious references that could be controversial or age-inappropriate, and I try not to mention specific products that might seem like endorsements for those products. I will give two examples from my children's book, Chain Letter. The adult poem, "Letter from St. Jude," on which Chain Letter is based, mentioned "A statue of the Virgin." In Chain Letter, to avoid making a religious reference in a humorous context, I changed this to "The Statue of Liberty." In addition, the original poem contained the line "She won a new Mercedes." To avoid product endorsement, I changed this to "She won a stretch limousine."

message 20: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
Nina wrote: "This may be a repeat because i am not sure if you received my question. How do you approach writing for children in contrast with your writing for adults."

Sorry to be so slow to answer! I just needed a little time to think about the question.

message 21: by Lucille (new)

Lucille Day (lucilleday) | 12 comments Mod
Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful questions and for joining the discussion today. I've enjoyed talking with you.

If you have other questions, please feel free to send me a message anytime through Goodreads.

Best wishes,

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