How I Learned to Stop Worrying That People Would Think They Were Reading My Journal
By Krysten Lindsay Hager
The night before my first teen humor novel, True Colors, was released, I was having a snack and watching “American Dad” reruns on Cartoon Network. I was anxious, but mostly excited and I checked my email between commercial breaks. That’s when I got an email with interview questions and the one at the top asked, “Is Landry based on you at that age?” Then it hit me—would everyone who read the book think they were reading my teen journal? Would every high school guy I ever crossed paths with think he was the inspiration for the crushes and love interests I wrote from then on? I started to panic and did what I always do when the fear sets in—I called my mom. Her response?
“Landry’s blonde and blue eyed. You’re not. See? No similarity at all. Well, except for when you dyed your hair blonde and had those purple contacts, but still, they were purple not blue.”
“People might look deeper than that.”
“Oh…well…then you might have a problem. But you’re not so much alike. After all, Landry doesn’t have a George Michael poster on her wall and spend her time wondering if she marries him if she’ll take his stage name or his real Greek last name.”
“Okay, but Landry and I both overthink things, we both went to small schools, modeled and there’s her unfortunate stress-related problems.”
“You know how when Landry gets nervous she gets those…stress induced potty issues.”
“Oh, right. When she runs to the toilet. Those. Huh. Maybe you should have left those out. Make a note for next time.”
“Mom, it comes out tomorrow—anyway, when you read it, did you think you were reading my diary or that she was a completely different person?”
“Honestly, there are shades of you in it, but no. She has her own way of looking at things. Besides, without the constant George Michael and Troy Aikman obsessing, then no, there’s no way anyone would ever think it was you. Plus, you didn’t get worried about your hair until ninth grade when you’d get up at 5 am. to get ready.”
“Wait, your sister’s here. She wants to know if you’re ready for release day tomorrow or if you’ll be spending it overthinking while near a bathroom. Ha ha!”
Sigh. And yes, that’s exactly how that conversation went down. That release was the summer of 2014. Since then I’ve had five more books come out and I now see things differently when it comes to what people are seeing in my work. In my YA romance, Competing with the Star, I shared some very personal details about a situation I went through in my family as a subplot. I couldn’t easily talk about what I had gone through, but I was able to get out everything that happened by writing about it. I couldn’t express those feelings as Krysten, but I could as Nick. Similarly, I went through a difficult situation years ago and had written about my feelings on the first go-around, but I hadn’t published it. Then last summer I thought, if I have to go through this again, then I am going to help someone else out with this. So, I spent a week of my life where I was going through it all over again by editing the novel, Dating the It Guy. I sent it out and got a contract for it a few weeks later. And since its release in spring, I received many messages about how people have felt less alone by reading it. I’ve learned that sharing personal things through my writing can help others, so I no longer worry about people thinking they’re reading my journals when they’re reading about my journey.
Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, modeling, and crushes. She’s a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.