You start by seeing Barbie on a shelf at Children’s Palace. She’s all happy and curvy and sparkly and grown up. Oooooh, pretty!
The next time you’re over at your girlfriend’s house you spot Barbies. She shares her best one. It’s Western Barbie! She winks. She sparkles. She makes you believe that you should have a Barbie of your own. You ask your mom to buy one for you, but she says, “We’ll see.” That clearly means “not soon enough.” You save your money. You pick up dog poop, even though that’s something Barbie would NEVER do. It’s still not enough money. You play with as many Barbies as possible. You start paying attention to the ads between episodes of Wonder Woman and 3-2-1 Contact, researching which ones you want and how each accessory could influence your play. You buy Barbies for friends so that you can play with them before the birthday party. Who cares if it’s only for five minutes and she’s still in a box? After the gifts have been opened at the party, you insist everyone play Barbies even though you’ll get Skipper with her dumb flat feet and A-cup outfits. You get creative and layer styles, which you don’t mind admitting are awesome. You Kool-Aid dye skipper’s hair pink and declare going barefoot the trendiest thing EVER!
Then! Then it’s finally November. It’s FINALLY time for YOUR birthday, which is so close to Christmas that even if you don’t get exactly what you want, hope is still in the wet cold air. By the new year, your Barbie collection is the envy of your circle of friends. You invite your bestie over for the Barbie play date of the decade. You discuss the plan: Runway show or re-enactment of the Guiding Light episode where Reeva ends up in the public fountain declaring her love for Bud in her sparkly silver dress? Creative license demands you add a tiara and have Bud roll into the scene on a purple corvette. You decide on the re-enactment. First you have to get the furniture in the dream-house perfect. The scene you’re creating isn’t at the house, but this important. Then you have to change outfits exactly forty-two times. After all, your grandmother spent a lot of time sewing those clothes, and you and your bestie must decide what she wears during the day before she goes to the party and ends up in the fountain. Your storyline gets muddled because the outfits change the direction of the game. Your best friend keeps using the phrase, “And then.” You don’t want to hog the game, so you have to agree at least part of the time. Plus, she has good ideas–you have good taste in friends. You like how this all shaking out. But, your Barbie doesn’t end up in the fountain at all because by the time you’ve settled on outfits and a storyline it’s time for your BFF to go home.
You discuss leaving everything as is so that next time you can pick up right where you left off. Maybe the story wasn’t great enough to save? Should you just put it all away? You wonder how you had so much fun even though you were barely started. You both decide to quickly finish:
The End. You both promise that next time will be even better!
And that’s how my first draft of a young adult book is born too.