Monday, August 26, 2013

Why I write Middle Grade - by Brooks Benjamin

I'm eternally immature.

Or at least that's what a lot of my middle school teachers wrote on my report cards. They may not have said it in those exact words, but trust me--they meant it.

For me, middle school was this weird combination of Holy crap I can't wait to get out of this place and Best. Years. Ever. It was the time when I got bullied the most, but it was also the three years of my life when I made some of my absolute closest friends. I was a certified band geek, a comic book nerd, the founder of a don't-tell-anyone-we-dance dance crew, the creator of the Cherokee Ghostbusting Club, and the proud owner of a complete Ernest P. Worrell outfit (which I wore for an entire month).


Yeah, awkward would be a good way to describe my middle school life.

But it was during those years when I started figuring out what kind of person I was going to be. I loved being part of a team. Part of group. Part of something bigger than myself. Even when I think back to my absolute favorite movies, they're the ones that feature the rag-tag group of guys and girls, each with their own quirky personality. Alone, they're not much. But put them together and you've got yourselves Ghostbusters, The Goonies, or a Monster Squad.

And here's what I figured out:

When you can find that group of people who can truly appreciate your odd-ness, your strange-ocity, your eternal immaturity, you learn really fast that being weird can be a safe thing. Unfortunately, that comforting blanket of stick-togetherness sort of faded away when we got to high school. Sports, girlfriends, boyfriends, peer pressure, and everything else started to pull all of us in different directions. And while we lost a lot of that group energy we loved so much in middle school, what we kept helped us get through those next four years in one piece.

So if I had to boil my why-I-write-MG answer down to a single reason, it'd probably be that. Middle school sucked in more ways than a thousand, but it gave me something I'd never let go of. And every time I write, I want that theme to blaze through the entire book and shout out from every page.

That it's okay to just be yourself.


Now go embrace your own inner Ernest and let yourself get a little more eternally immature.


For my giveaway, I'll be creating a book trailer for one lucky (published or unpublished) winner. The trailer will include any music, text, and pictures you'd like. The finished product will be between one and two minutes long and I promise to make it kick as much butt as I can.

Here's an example of what I'll try to pull off:

ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans Book Trailer

Good luck and thanks for entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

25 comments:

  1. Brooks,
    It's still dark on a Monday morning. I'm trying to pack lunch boxes with my right eye still asleep. I haven't finished finished my first cup of coffee. And you've made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

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    1. Who doesn't love the smell of coffee in the morning? Especially when it comes shooting out of your nostrils!

      Thanks for checking us out!

      Delete
  2. Funny. My MG years were the polar opposite of yours, but the 'lesson learned' was the same. I wonder if that's what those years are realy all about?

    --Suzanne
    www.suzannewarr.com

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    1. What we never see in the Constitution is the super-fine print. If we Nancy Drew the sucker we'll find it really says free and public (and unbearable during the 6th through 8th years) education.

      And there's also a drawing of Snoopy in the corner because our framers were quite MG Minded, too!

      Delete
  3. Dang it Brooks, my neck is sore from nodding non-stop through your post. Your fault! (and a great post)

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    1. Was it because you were agreeing with me or because you were listening to Milli Vanilli again, Rob?

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    2. I don't know about Milli Vanilli but us girls formed dance groups and did the MC hammer and the Rodger Rabbit to songs like Ice Ice baby and then later NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. And let's not forget the Tootsie roll ;)

      But now I'm showing exactly what era I grew up in :p

      Delete
    3. Dance off challenge!- Blame it on the rain...And I will bring the pain!

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    4. I feel like we'd be doing the world a disservice if we don't form a dance crew. Like right now.

      Delete
    5. I'm in! (You know, I'm not bragging or anything, but I shook tWitch's hand and spoke to him this summer and I think some of his awesomeness rubbed off on me ... before security dragged me away.)

      Delete
    6. For real?!?! That's so cool! That means if I ever give you a high-five it'd almost be just like giving a high-five to Twitch.

      Delete
  4. This is the first time I've found this blog - and, it was the perfect morning to do so - Ernest gifs...Amazing! Agree on the paradox of middle school!

    Brittany
    @bookwormtales

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by! Ernest makes everything a little better, doesn't he?

      Except Brussels sprouts. Because those are really alien brains. They're not fooling anyone.

      Delete
  5. I well remember my MG years as being some of the most special of my education. I still remember all four of my teachers fondly - fun, yet got the job done. I love the reason why you write - encouraging MGs to just be themselves (Not that they have any choice :) ) but that encouragement, at that time in life, is critical, when you don't quite feel at home in your own skin just yet. I wish you much success.

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    1. It's so fun to explore that "who am I, really?" mentality of the MG world. I know my characters are pretty high up on the quirk scale and I love seeing their transformation of 'what they think they need to be' to 'what they really want to be.'

      Thanks for dropping by!

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  6. Replies
    1. Authentic Bulgarian Miak!

      I love you so much right now, Tom.

      Delete
  7. GOONIES!! ♥

    Yeah, that's all I've got to say.

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  8. Happened to stumble upon this blog...great post! Totally agree that the middle school years can be the best of times and the worst of times and capturing that in MG lit is key.

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    1. Thanks, Beth, and we appreciate you stopping by!

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  9. Middle school is the best which is why I've spent nearly twenty years teaching the hormonally impaired, and I have such a blast writing about them.

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  10. Haha! I like that description--hormonally impaired. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  11. WOOHOO!

    Congrats entry #22! Drop us a line through the "contact us" page with your name and email address and I'll start the create-a-book-trailer-of-pure-awesomeness process!

    ReplyDelete