Today, we’ve got a guest post from All Our Broken Pieces author L.D. Crichton for you — plus keep reading for your chance to win a copy of this gorgeous new YA story.
I decided to write about the topic: Something that surprised me while writing All Our Broken Pieces. It was an easy decision because I don’t even need to think about the answer. I could tell you in a heartbeat—maybe less.
Although, to be fair, it’s not just one thing. It’s a combination of many, like a self-serve sundae bar with a hundred different toppings. A bit crunchy, a bit sweet, a bit salty, a bit soft—and it’s got the mother of all cherry surprises sitting right on the top.
I could tell you how I was surprised that I’d spend hours of my life that I’ll never recover, staring at a blank screen hoping, praying, wishing for the agony to end. Please God, let the words come. I was even more surprised that sometimes God would answer and in a single weekend, my head would spin and swirl like a tornado of thoughts that would spill over like floodwaters. I’d hit the computer and exterminate things from my brain like some kind of pest control and pump out 15,000 words in 2 days.
I could mention how I marveled at how effortlessly some of the words and phrases came from the first moment I typed them. How I thought they were beautiful and heartfelt and somehow those same words and phrases have made the cut from first draft to finished book unpicked and untouched by edits and revisions.
I could mention my astonishment that some of the scenes I needed to write felt like an exhausting battle with an emotional vampire for every single word and I literally just hated everybody for days after I wrote them.
Or how I cried so much more than I thought I would, how my heart broke for both of them—especially when Lennon fears that she’ll forget what her mom smelled like, what her voice sounded like, or when she’s testing the waters to see if talking about her mom will make her break, because I wonder those same things. I cried so much more than I thought I would.
It was hit or miss, depending on the day.
It was bewildering to see how deeply personal a story could become and mind blowing at just how quickly.
All of those things came as definite surprises. But the cherry to top my sundae, the icing on the cake, the piece de resistance. The epic finale was something completely and utterly unexpected.
A little background: first and foremost—I do not have OCD and I’m not an expert but the reason I wanted to write the book to begin with—aside from the fact that it’s important to talk about mental health, was because of my own struggle with mental health. I thought it would a safe place for me to explore my own diagnosed anxieties which for a long time, was mostly me catastrophizing every possible thing. Then in my 20’s my mom passed away which took that overall sense of worry and morphed it into more off a morbid fixation on death, either mine or loved ones. I wrote from personal experience of being in the throes of panic chasing an illogical belief your brain is trying to tell you is true. Lennon and I have that in common so I gave her some of my thoughts.
When I started writing, I felt that giving her OCD, something that was NOT my own experience, something I would have to research and look at from the perspective of someone trying to educate themselves with facts, would somehow remove me enough emotionally to write her story. I had convinced myself adding compulsions to the mix would create the divide I needed so the writing wouldn’t destroy me, but quite the opposite happened.
At first I was infatuated with her. Enchanted by her. Then I became attached to her. Until I was inspired by her.
Seeing Lennon from Kyler’s eyes opened mine.
He adores her, and accepts every single thing about her, the number five, the disaster level thinking, her epic fact recollection and amazing music knowledge, her heart.
Lennon’s not what society deems ‘normal’ but the fact is neither am I, and neither are one out of every four people you’ll meet, who, at some point in their life will meet the criteria of having a mental health disorder. Estimated to be approximately one out of every five teenagers. Someone you know is suffering from a mental health disorder right now. One in four people. Everyone knows more than four people, so it’s not ‘chances are you know someone with a mental health disorder’ the fact is you do. Just like Lennon. Just like me. To quote Lennon: “Is anyone ever okay, really?”
Yet there she is, fighting her demons, kicking butt and taking names. Just like SO MANY PEOPLE DO EVERY SINGLE DAY. She learns to accept her flaws before eventually *gasp* embracing them (maybe with a little encouragement from Kyler) but I do see Lennon as a fearless female to admire.
And we started with something so closely in common so that must mean that I’m pretty awesome. Even if I send you ARE YOU OKAY? 33x in a row over text message, or if I’m panicky and acting strange seeking constant reassurance from you because today isn’t great. The older I get the less this happens but when it does, the people who are important enough don’t care. It doesn’t make me less of a person. I feel things more than some people. I worry more than most. So what? Take me as I am or leave me.
And learning that was the biggest, most amazing surprise. I don’t think it’s everyday than an author can tell you that writing a story changed their entire self-perception. And that somehow they walked away a new person, suddenly able to embrace exactly who they are.
So despite the free flow or fight for words, and the endless sobbing, and the instant relatability—I had no idea from the first sentence that writing a book could change a person so profoundly but it was a pretty big surprise. Maybe even bigger than the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies combined.
“You can’t keep two people who are meant to be together apart for long…”
Lennon Davis doesn’t believe in much, but she does believe in the security of the number five. If she flicks the bedroom light switch five times, maybe her new L.A. school won’t suck. But that doesn’t feel right, so she flicks the switch again. And again. Ten more flicks of the switch and maybe her new step family will accept her. Twenty-five more flicks and maybe she won’t cause any more of her loved ones to die. Fifty times more and then she can finally go to sleep.
Kyler Benton witnesses this pattern of lights from the safety of his treehouse in the yard next door. It is only there, hidden from the unwanted stares of his peers, that Kyler can fill his notebooks with lyrics that reveal the true scars of the boy behind the oversized hoodies and caustic humor. But Kyler finds that descriptions of blonde hair, sad eyes, and tapping fingers are beginning to fill the pages of his notebooks. Lennon, the lonely girl next door his father has warned him about, infiltrates his mind. Even though he has enough to deal with without Lennon’s rumored tragic past in his life, Kyler can’t help but want to know the truth about his new muse.
L.D. Crichton is the author of THE ENCHANTMENT OF EMMA FLETCHER, which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She’s a coffee devotee and lip gloss enthusiast whose infatuation with music is truly astonishing. If she’s not reading, writing, or checking her horoscope for signs from the Universe, you can find her by the water in search of mermaids because they’re real. ALL OUR BROKEN PIECES is her first young adult novel. Represented by John Silbersack @ The Bent Agency.
She is one of 6 hosts for a weekly Twitter chat about writing. Search the hashtag #Wattpad4 Monday nights at 8:00 PM EST on Twitter to join in!
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