This was originally supposed to be my release day post for OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES. But! I'm a bundle of nerves, so this post is early, and it's not really about the anthology. I've decided to write about one of my favorite characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As one does.
I love Korg for numerous reasons. He's funny. He's strange. He's sweet and friendly and endearing, despite being an imprisoned gladiator on an alien planet.
It would've been so easy to turn him into a broody, tortured, gruff-voiced guy with a tragic backstory. It would've made sense for Thor to meet a Korg who was well-versed in military strategy, or determined to seek revenge against those who wronged him. But that didn't happen. Rather than meeting a brutal ally in his time of need, Thor finds a genuine friend. (Who happens to be made of rocks.)
I know what you're thinking: "Aw, Korg is so cute, but this is completely random!" And it's true, this is indeed random. And yes, I'm partially writing this to distract myself from the impending publication of my first essay.
I'm a little afraid of my own words right now. OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES releases tomorrow, and I'm feeling vulnerable. Which seems silly, because I've always trusted Amy Reed with my story. I also trust the lovely folks at Simon Pulse, who are giving me a huge opportunity. And I feel so privileged to be included in this roster of brilliant YA writers. I'm working alongside some of my biggest idols, and I've also had the pleasure of meeting new writers to admire.
Ultimately, the release of this book is a joyous, powerful occasion. But the trepidation—for me, at least—is still there.
Will I ever feel comfortable with release days? With doing the work that I genuinely believe I'm meant to do? It's such a strange paradox, to have this lifelong dream that will also irrevocably force me out of my comfort zone.
I'm questioning myself, my confidence as a writer, and my ability to find the right words.
Which is why I feel inclined to talk about Korg instead. Because he delights me and surprises me. Because he has profound moments, but he isn't a character that needs to be taken too seriously. Because I went into the movie theater with no idea who he was (or that he was even in the film), and left wishing I knew more about him.
And I'm sure some people felt the same way. I'm also sure that other people would disagree. Maybe some folks were disappointed, because they wanted a gruff, military-type dude made of rocks. Perhaps others were like, "This is so random? I don't know how I feel about it?"
And honestly, this is how some readers will feel about my essay. My inclusion might be a pleasant surprise for some readers, while other folks will be like, "Hm. Interesting. [monocle emoji]" And that's okay. I can't please everyone. I don't want to please everyone, because that would require writing something apolitical and apathetic. And I have no interest in being agreeable or silent.
Which is, of course, the entire premise of OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES. We're all here to speak our truths, because we can. And because we must.
I just hope that what I've written will be enough, for those who need it. I hope students who are struggling will read my story, and realize their future is bright regardless of their current GPA. I hope urban Natives will understand where I'm coming from. I hope writers will feel inspired by the fact that Tracy (WHOSE DEBUT NOVEL IS COMING OUT IN 2020!!! *heart eyes*) and I are in this anthology, alongside some of the biggest names in YA.
My brain is a mess right now. There's no doubt about it. And I've been chiseling away at this blog post for way too long, so it's time to end it. But before I go, I'd like to thank everyone in advance for reading and supporting OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES. It's such an honor to be included in this collection, and I will treasure this book and the people involved with it for the rest of my life.