integrity

Okay, so this was SUPPOSED to be a blog post solely about the great event Flyleaf put on for WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE last night. It was, in a word, awesome. I mean, check out the sign:

We arrived with the cars, got them unloaded from the trailers and into place:

Then headed over to the Flying Burrito for dinner, where I ate my weight in queso, chips, and the trademark Mexican Trainwreck (beans, cheese, salsa, guac, green onions, sour cream). It was so awesome, both the food and the memories. Then we went BACK to Flyleaf, where a great crowd had gathered. Included: my mother, one of my babysitters, my fourth grade teacher, one of my former colleagues from UNC Creative Writing, and a girl I babysat when I was in college. Among other people. It was, as my mentor Lee Smith would say, like old home week. I loved it. Also, loved these girls from Fayetteville, all elementary school teachers, who arrived in matching shirts:

I read, did trivia, then we handed out a TON of t-shirts and water bottles. My husband had worried we’d brought too many Dessen Racing shirts and would be lugging them all right back to the garage with us. Instead, they were gone in, like, ten minutes. POOF! Time for another screen print run, clearly. Anyway, everyone was fab, the folks at Flyleaf ROCKED, and it felt like a nice little wrap up to my local events, at least for now. I’d done my first one ALL the way back on May 10th, and been around the country since then. I’ll be in New Orleans for ALA later this week, but after that, I’m planning to disappear for a little while. It just felt…good. Like a nice, best way to round things out. I mean, look how relaxed and happy I look with my Dessen Racing friends:

On the way home, I saw my first firefly of the year. On the eve of the solstice! Like I said: nice.

Then, this morning, I woke up to find 100+ emails in my website account. They were all identical, but sent from individual people. Apparently the commercial for my books has been running on Teen Nick during some episodes of Degrassi that feature a transgender character, and my name and email was included on a form put together by a group in Florida to protest. Now, I actually have no control when and where my ad airs. I didn’t even know it was running during Degrassi: I saw it on MTV about a month ago during a Diary about Justin Bieber and haven’t seen it since. My publisher bought ad time from MTV networks (I believe) and it runs whenever they decide to run it. So I was surprised (to say the least) to find myself the target of all these emails. Worse, when some of the folks who sent them got my auto-response (which goes out, um, automatically if you email me at that address) they wrote back very nasty emails accusing me of spamming them. When they had emailed me. WHAT? I know! Needless to say, my Zen was gone. It was like waking up and getting kicked in the face for no reason. Good morning!

I will say this, though. I don’t watch Degrassi, it came along after my time. But I believe in equal rights for ALL people, regardless of race, sex, or sexual orientation. If that makes me “depraved” and “lacking integrity” (both things I have been accused of today, more than once) then, well, okay. I’ll take it. I was raised to stand by what I believe, and I believe in equality. You don’t have to agree with me. That’s what’s great about this world. But you don’t have to be nasty about it, either.

Add in the fact that my babysitter was down with the flu and for whatever reason my daughter was PARTICULARLY energetic and refused to nap, and this has been a long, crazy day. One minute I’m trying to cool down and NOT fire back equally mean emails (“Sticks and stones,” I kept hearing my mother say, over and over again in my head, as I hit ARCHIVE instead of REPLY) the next I am cutting crusts off a PB&J and telling myself to chill the heck out. But now that I (finally) have a few free minutes I’m able to process it all and realize that really, it doesn’t really matter. I think it was Meg Cabot who said, “You’re not a hundred dollar bill. Not everyone is going to love you.” True and truer. You can always count on Meg to say it better than anyone else.

Look, I’m just a girl from NC. A mom, a wife, a daughter. An author. I write about high school. I don’t think I’m changing the world for the worse or better. I’m just doing what we are ALL doing, which is the best we can. Highs and lows, highs and lows, as they say. My high was those friendly faces and those fireflies here in my hometown. Low was a bunch of emails from people who, most likely, have no idea who I am or what my books are about. Really, that’s not much of a low. If it is at all.

And it’s GOT to mean something that as I was writing the paragraph above, my iTunes began playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” Don’t worry about a thing, because every little thing gonna be all right… That says it better than I ever could. At any rate, as always, thanks for listening.

Have a good night, everyone!

58 Responses to integrity

  1. phillis says:

    To. Say the least..Sarah your books helped see myself in a different light. Helped me get through high school happily not just grining and baring it. Keeping the moo. Helped me see myself for what I’m to become that peoples past judgments of me really dont matter to/effect me or my future. Your books helped me find the truth to what I couldn’t see. We all get our chance for something bigger and better in our lives but the question will always be..”are you going to take this chance onto the unknown future or let it slip thru your fingers”..I love your work. It’s bee. nearly 3 years since I’ve gotten out of high school and your books are the only thing that gives me hope for my happy ending.

  2. Clay Steele says:

    Thank you for standing up. It is refreshing. My 6 mo. old daughter, Neva, would think so too – if she could stand up…

  3. Lizbeth says:

    March 1, 2012
    Dear Sarah Dessen,
    I’m Lizbeth From East Leyden High School. I just finished reading “Dreamland”, one of the best books I’ve read. I loved the way it had emotions it really kept me interested. It made me wonder why anyone would ever stay with someone who beats them up. The way Catilin love was stronger than her suffering The ending was really touching, she had to admit who she used to be, and create a new her. I was wondering if theres a second part? I would love to know if she ever meets Rogerson again? Right now I’m reading “This Lullaby”. I enjoy reading your books. You’re a great author.
    Sincerely,
    Lizbeth

  4. Jamie Sned says:

    this has nothing really to do with your blog… which I did love
    by the way. it actually has to deal with your book, The Truth About
    Forever. I love that book. it has helped me majorly and I would
    love to see it as a movie. I’ve actually been waiting for it to come
    out!! haha, but it never did.. but I don’t know if you’ll see this, or
    even care, but I’ve been dreaming about acting my whole life and
    if this movie would ever be produced I would love to be your Macy!
    this is probably pointless, because a girl from a small town, be in a
    movie? ya I know it’s a far fetched dream, but a 16 year old girl can
    dream right? but… anyway. I also this Josh hutcherson would make
    a really good wess. haha, just saying. I hope you do turn this book
    into a movie though.. not that any movie coul actually capture the real
    beauty of the book… but, thank you for reading (if you did). and have
    a nice night! thank you again.

  5. brittany says:

    Dear Sarah Dessen,
    I am from Faribault Senior High School, I just read your book Along For The Ride. It was the best book I have ever read. I could honestly read this book over and over again. Most teenagers my age love to escape from the real world by reading books, that’s what I love about all of your books I feel like I am in the story when I am reading it. I love all the emotion in your writing. When I read the book Along For The Ride I could feel like every emotion Auden went through. I hope someday to find a guy like Eli. Thank you so much for your time.