Sunday, June 7, 2015

Free Fall Into Authenticity by Kimberly Sabatini

I hate free falling. It's a fact. I can ride almost any roller coaster and while it will give me whirly dervishes in my gut and I'll scream like a banshee, I will ultimately get off grinning like a disheveled fool. And pretty likely to get back on and do it again.

Having said that, I will never go back on the Leap of Faith in the Bahamas. 

(I found this lovely video to give you a frame of reference)

Normally, knowing my distaste for steep drops, I'd happily let a ride like this pass me by. At my local water park, they have a ride call the half pipe. I have no plans to ride it and it's not half as scary looking as THIS one. But if I change my mind--I can always hop on and give it a go. But when I went to the Bahamas, I had no idea if I'd ever get back there again. And my husband and my kids were doing it. I was not going to be the only one who chickened out--the one they mocked. As I stood at the top, hearing person after person scream their fool heads off, my mantra was...every day hundreds of people ride this ride and live to tell the tale--I WILL LIVE. 

So, I went first. Anticipation is my enemy. And it all happened so darn fast I could hardly process it. But even so, I hated it more than I expected. Those few horrible seconds where I was free falling were not fun for me at all. But before I made it out of the pool at the other end I got that expected feeling of euphoria that comes after a thrilling ride. Only this time the feeling came from knowing that I NEVER had to do that again...but I'd always and forever have the bragging rights. 

I suppose your wondering how this all relates seamlessly into a lesson on writing for teens. For me, this blog post falls squarely in the peer pressure camp. Often, deliberately or accidentally, YA literature finds itself exploring the pressure young adults feel to do or not to do a bajillion different things. I just wanted to remind you all that peer pressure isn't limited to the young and inexperienced. We are all capable of being coerced into doing things we might never do if left to our own devices. And we should also remember that teens are also capable of taking a leap of faith and then deciding what it means to them when they arrive at the bottom. 

But more important than anything else, whenever writing one of those peer pressure scenes, remember it will always be better if it's based on your own free falls, rather than someone else. Be authentic and your work will resonate. 

What memory of peer pressure would you pull upon to craft an authentic scene?


  1. Oh, what a great question. Only a few years ago, when everyone was scurrying to scoop up the latest iPhone, there was a free app you could download that would snap your picture and then analyze your face based on how symmetrical it was to determine 'beauty.' A group of coworkers at lunch was passing it around and I was dying inside.

    I have mirrors in my house. I know what I look like. I also have the plastic surgeon's recommendations on ALL of the work he wanted to perform back when I was a teenager and horribly depressed about the size of my nose and my weak chin and my uneven ears. The last thing I wanted to do was let some free app rate my appearance.

    I'm ashamed to tell you I did and tried to laugh off the result along with everyone else, but that sick feeling deep in my pit didn't go away and even now, can be recalled in a finger snap....

  2. Sending a million (((hugs))) to your beautiful face--always made more radiant by your heart. <3 Your vulnerability connects your readers to your writing.