From Penelope's blog, Aberration Nation, posted 1 July 2008:
Gimme Everything But That!
As progeny of this gimme society, we often want for everything and yet we miss the gifts right beneath our nicely botoxed foreheads and expensive sunglasses, nose jobs, and wrinkle cream. Whatever it is you paid for, these gifts hide beneath it all, hoping you'll find them. They are the gifts nobody asks for.
Today is the launch date for Aberrations. The reviews so far are fantastic! It’s the realization of a dream I’ve had for a long time. It's the culmination of gifts I never wanted but have struggled to embrace as part of my unique identity. I’m pinching myself. I’m doing my happy dance and bracing myself at the same time, knowing it's just the beginning.
When I was about thirteen, I snuck out once in the middle of the night. I took a blanket and a radio to the elementary school a few blocks away. I stretched the old blanket out in the middle of the playground, turned on the radio, got comfortable, and looked up at the stars for a long time. I remember feeling like a giant leaning against the side of the world; I had a sense of it being round and turning that night. I felt the fullness of life; how everything revolves and connects to create a deep, solid existence. I swore to myself that one day I would write a great novel that would make everything in my life worthwhile. It was an adolescent dream but it was real. That was nearly thirty years ago.
In my novel, aberration is defined as the negative or tragic in our lives. Everyone has at least one issue; it’s the human condition. These aberrations may be caused by our own misguided or foolish choices, or they may result from something far beyond our control such as illness, deformity, family history, etc. The underlying theme of Aberrations is truth. How do we face the truth in our lives, and then how do we deal with it? How can we use these seemingly negative aberrations riding our backs to embrace a unique existence filled with positives? Sometimes reality can be downright ugly; however, if we make the effort to search for beauty, we can almost always find it hiding in the shadow of our pain.
Sometimes the gifts we receive are not what we want. I’ve been asked a few times recently to explain this statement (found on the back cover of Aberrations
). Let me put it this way. I never asked to grow up in a dysfunctional family. Numerous things have happened in my life that I quickly categorized as negative. My list could go on and on. I bet you have one, too. Depending on my age, maturity, and emotional status at the time, I often ran from these painful negatives, hid them from others, and/or tucked them away as tightly as I could, either denying their existence or saying that I'd deal with them later. But I can tell you without hesitation and with complete confidence, that if my own aberrations had not existed, copies of Aberrations
would not be surfacing in bookstores everywhere this week.
Perhaps there would a different kind of book. I’ll never know, but the one I wrote and love would not have been possible. Over a ten-year period I poured a tremendous amount of myself into each word. Perhaps my talent isn't worthy of the Pulitzer, and perhaps Aberrations
won’t be a bestseller or find a place in Oprah’s Book Club, but it’s a damn good start. It represents everything I love about myself and my life--the good, the bad, and the ugly. It makes everything I’ve experienced worthwhile.
This accomplishment from someone, who, like Angel, the protagonist of Aberrations
, struggled for a solid identify as a young person, stumbling quite a bit along the way, is a huge step forward. It's a testament to forging ahead when all signs point to failure. Sometimes, it’s the failures that keep us going; they are filled with hidden gifts. Sometimes, failure makes success all the more important, all the more enticing, and finally possible. Failures, misfortunes, bad choices, and stumbles in the dark often pave the way for who we are to become. It’s common knowledge that trials make us stronger but to actively live under that premise is tough. Searching for something positive through our tears, embarrassment, or despair isn’t easy. It takes time, bravery, and persistence.
is a beginning for me. I've had a thirty year start. I’ve finally hit my stride, and I’m prepared to keep moving forward until I see the finish line. It will be interesting to see what the next thirty years bring. Maybe I’ll actually get that Pulitzer one day. Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big. After all, when I was five years old, left alone, my brother and I had to fill up an old plastic trash can with water just so we could go swimming, and now copies of my novel are headed to a New York City Borders Bookstore that sits next to Central Park.