I wanted to rewrite this story I’ve been working on for the past month in first person, but I didn’t have a voice. So I gave her Fuckhead’s from Jesus’ Son. Of course I didn’t realize that until I was 1000+ words in.
— Melissa McEwan
My private high school required girls wear a uniform — plaid skirt, white blouse with a collar, socks or tights in school colors only, and a shoe that wasn’t a sneaker or a sandal — while the boys could wear anything they wanted except jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers. This was because the girls “needed” the uniform. The boys didn’t need a uniform because, well, boys aren’t into silly and superfluous things like clothes. (I started high school during the ass-end of the eighties. Like hell they weren’t. Judging solely on the boys’ sartorial choices, my high school was like a mix of House Party, Saved by the Bell. and a midwesterner’s interpretation of Less Than Zero.) And had we the agency to dress ourselves we might do something irrational and show a little too much thigh or clavicle and — gasp — distract the boys.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have been the first to cry “slut shaming,” or at least, damn unfair. (We did lobby for the boys to get uniforms of their own, something along the lines of gray pants and a white shirt. At least we’d look like we belonged at the same school.) But we took at as fact: We needed to be told what to wear because, you know, apocalypse or whatever.
When someone asks, “What do you write?” I hate answering literary fiction. In fact, I don’t. I usually weasel out and say something like mainstream or realistic fiction, which isn’t always not literary fiction. Actually telling someone you write literary fiction is akin to saying, “Yes, I’m a huge snob and I’m judging you.” (Besides, everyone knows lit-fic is terrible now.) I don’t know. Maybe it just needs a new name.
Every time I’ve tried to add some sort of supernatural element to my writing, the result is just… embarrassing. I’ve come to the conclusion that despite pop culture’s predilection with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and ninjas, I’ve managed to grow up without those narratives. I don’t have a vampire narrative! If I wrote a vampires story, it would be, like, six vampires sitting around at a table at Denny’s talking about their feelings.