I have a confession to make and it's so embarrassing. I have recently picked up a new obsession. OH how the mighty have fallen! Grieve the loss of my intelligence and literacy please because they're both long dead and buried, flowers withered and dried, epitaph long since been carved into a marble headstone:
Here Lies Isabella's Intelligence and Sanity
"It was good while it lasted"
My confession, you ask? Well, dear reader, I have found my self ardently and neurotically consumed by romance novels. The worst part is that they aren't even published, edited, and critically acclaimed books. No, no, no. They are the worst kind of book. The Amateur. The Unpublished. The Cliche. Gross. Not only that, but they're really bad. Like, really really bad. The kind of books that make eyes bleed, brains shrivel, and stomachs clench with disgust. I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassing. So naturally, I had to confess my sins to you all. I don't know how this happened, or where this obsession came from. But like all obsessions that grip me, it was thrust upon me like an unplanned pregnancy and I had no choice to ride the wave and see where the journey took me. So here I am. Expectations for romance: significantly higher. Contentment in my life as a single woman: slowly waning. Sanity: went on a trip to Mexico and never returned.
There I was, claiming to be a future writer, hungry to consume the written word, and desperate to escape my existence, when I stumbled upon an app on the App Store claiming to have tons of free books. I thought to myself, "Wow! Free books!" because like all twenty-somethings, I live by the motto of "if it's free, it's for me". Innocent little Isabella, I had no idea the abyss I was about to dig myself into. The app, which I fail to mention to my many friends and loved ones is called Wattpad. I cringe just typing the name for shame and fear of damnation. The app burns a hole in my phone, hidden away from my Home Screen, tucked in the App Library that nobody ever looks at. It beckons me to read and revel in countless imaginings of lonely women. I'm ashamed and I might as well wear a scarlet letter A on my chest.
If you don't know, Wattpad is a social media website that allows writers to publish their writing to be read for free. It has upwards of 90 million users. Sounds intriguing enough. I wanted to read more amateur writing and see what other people like me were doing. I assumed I'd be reading short stories, creative pieces, and poetry (all of which is included on said website). How wrong I was. How naive of me to think that I'd be expanding my mind and my creativity.
The MAJORITY of what's published on this hellhole of an app are trashy, horribly written, and cringe-worthy romance novels that follow the same exact plot with different characters, settings, and background stories. What's WORSE is the abundance of... of.... f-f-f-fanfiction. (Pause for dramatic shuttering). The kind of writing that I avoid like the plague. It makes my lip curl just thinking about f-f-fanfiction. Harry Potter. Harry Styles. Marvel. Game of Thrones. You name it? Somebody's twisted mind has revamped, reworked, and rewritten it. It makes me sick. Fanfiction is like eating a wonderful meal at a restaurant, taking the leftovers home in a to-go container, and adding copious amounts of celery salt (the worst of all flavored salts) and then proceeding to gorge yourself like a bulimic on a binge. The end result is that it's never good, it's always worse than the original, and it leaves you feeling disgusting and bloated.
I, on the other hand, have taste. I love good food. And I love to go to a nice restaurant and eat food prepared by talented chefs who are masters at their work. I also have recently acquired a taste for food prepared by people who spout things like, "I didn't study at to Le Cordon Bleu, but I did look up this recipe for hollandaise online and I think it's pretty good" or "My friends say that I can make butter cake better than Mastro's". The truth is, it's never as good as the Masters, but it satisfies the appetite. The same goes for my reading appetites. Sometimes I don't want a five course, masterfully prepared, and thoughtfully plated meal. Sometimes I want a burger and fries that have been slapped on a paper plate and that's okay too.
I am picky about what I choose to read because like anything, there is an abundance of writing that is cliche and unsatisfactory. The hidden gems that I dig up after hours of searching, the ones that I fall into and forget the world around me, those make all of this worth it. To me, these stories aren't just some trashy imaginings of a novice writer's mind. They are poetic and beautiful. They are rich and filled with the inspiration of life. They are about overcoming adversity to find love and finding peace in chaos. They are about people living their lives, desperate to find happiness despite their past or the misery of their present. Most of all, these stories are about people throwing caution into the wind and finding themselves along the way.
Sometimes you find yourself seeking comfort in the fictional because the world around you is too real and too harsh. It takes a good fiction story to remind you of the beauty of life. That one person can achieve their own happy endings, no matter if there's a sad beginning, or an angsty middle. Happy endings are not necessarily the "end" either. They are the start of a new season a rebirth of who we truly are unburdened by the brutality of our world. I hope to find my happy ending someday soon, when all of this nonsense is over. That I can place my book aside and see that my life is just as good as these stories albeit less dramatic and sappy, but a happy Disney fairytale ending nonetheless.
(if you want recommendations let me know)