Monday, June 3, 2013


In anticipation of BURNING's release NEXT TUESDAY (!!!), I have the pleasure of sharing guest posts by writers I know either in person or through the magics of social networking.

The first contribution comes today from my agency-sister Cal Armistead, debut YA author of BEING HENRY DAVID. It also happens to be Cal's birthday!

Here is what Cal writes:

What would I burn/get rid of, if I could?

I love this question, in part because I’ve been to the Burning Man festival twice, and watching The Man burn was truly an awe-inspiring event, like some ancient pagan ritual.  There’s nothing quite like an enormous bonfire to stir your primitive soul.

There’s even something in the bible about gathering the wheat (the good stuff) and burning the chaff (the stuff you don’t need).  Matthew 3:12, to be specific.  (Don’t be impressed. I had to look it up, even though I’m a bona fide preacher’s daughter.)

But aside from the pagan and primitive and biblical implications of fire, I love the thought of us asking ourselves: What do we need to burn off in our lives to make room for our new growth?  

Although I could write an entire essay on intangible, figurative things I’d like to burn away (all those faults and flaws and weaknesses; those stubborn five pounds in my butt region), I’m going to stick with actual, physical items that I could hurl into a fire and watch with satisfaction as they burst into flame.

My partial list:

-       Clothes that don’t quite fit.  Anything that makes me think, “if only I lost five or ten pounds, that would look GREAT on me,” must GO.  This includes the string bikini from my honeymoon, many years and two children ago.  What am I holding onto that for? It only taunts me, and nobody should feel judged by clothing.
-       Old love letters, from relationships that went south a long, long time ago.  Why do I keep them?  I never read them, and I recovered from the angst and pain years ago. Why be reminded of all that? Time to haul them into the fire and be done with them.
-       Old diaries.  Let’s face it, they’re embarrassing, not illuminating.  Nobody is going to write my biography some day and want to include excerpts from my life at age 14.  And holy crap, what if they did?  I’d be humiliated!  Burn those suckers. Let the past be the past.
-       Anything in my basement or attic that hasn’t been unpacked in the 6 years I’ve lived in this house.  Especially the boxes that weren’t unpacked in the 7 years I lived in the previous house.  

Just the thought of burning these items makes me feel lighter.  Not five pounds lighter in my butt region, but still, lighter in general.  I might just feel inspired to do a spring clean purge in my house sometime soon.  I think I will start with those diaries.  Yikes…

Cal Armistead's debut young adult novel, BEING HENRY DAVID, is available NOW from Albert Whitman Teen (at all the places where you buy books--but support your independent local bookstore first if you can!).  It has received great reviews so far, including a starred review from Kirkus and a glowing write-up in The Boston Globe! 

 Visit Cal Armistead here, and wish her a Happy Birthday!

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