Why YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN Was the Most Important Book I Read in 2020

The beautiful thing about stories is that they often mean different things to different people.

Today I learned there’s a Billie Eilish song that shares a name with Leah Johnson’s young adult novel. I have read the book, and I have not listened to the song. Should I?

Later. When I’m done writing this post. Maybe.

So. 2020 was awful. Eventually I’m going to stop talking about it altogether. But despite all the bad, good things DID happen. Not enough to make up for all the awful, but hey, we have to grasp onto any good we can find, right?

For me, books were a huge staple holding the year together. I read 156 of them. In 12 months. Read, listened, same thing, right? (2.5x audiobook speed, you’ll never go back.)

Without a doubt, You Should See Me In a Crown tops my list. And it’s taken me this long to get around to writing about it because … you know. 2020.

It should be stated for the record that I am not a queer Black teenage girl, I’m not here to speak for anyone out there who is, and yet somehow I related harder to this story than anything I’ve read in … years.

Why? Because I, too, was once a teen struggling to figure out who she was while being told who I could and could not be.

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The World Will Try to Break Your Creative Spirit. Sometimes, It Will Succeed.

I didn’t realize I was losing hold of my emotional health until something pushed me off the edge of “fine.”

2020 was a very, very bad year. For all of us.

I will never refer to this period in history as “good.” Nothing “good” has come from all this. Good things did happen to many people unrelated to the bad, sure. Hopefully you were one of them.

However, there is one thing that tragedy after tragedy can lead to for those willing to listen: It does have the power to remind us what matters most. What we really care about. What we really stand for in this life. What we can and will do anything to change, to preserve, to save.

I, for example, was quite unkindly reminded that creativity and emotion are vitally linked. Strong emotions fuel creative expression, which inspires strong emotions, and ideally, the cycle continues.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Like the rest of you, I had big plans for 2020. And even after lockdown, after the many awful things that followed, I didn’t realize I was losing hold of my emotional health until something came along to give me one final push off the edge of “fine.”

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Novelty Revisions Is Going On Hiatus

It’s going to take a long time to return to where I was — writing a lot, and often. And loving it.

Yesterday was the first time I’d written something in over two weeks — possibly the longest break from writing I’ve taken in years.

It took two hours to write 500 words. But I wrote them.

It’s going to take a long time to return to where I was — writing a lot, and often. And loving it.

I started this blog because of my love for writing and my hope that I could share what I was learning with other aspiring writers such as myself. Inspiring creators and offering hope to the down and discouraged has become a passion I never expected to discover from an 11-year-old blog.

Right now, though I know that passion and excitement will return in time, it’s buried deep beneath a barely manageable amount of pain and mistrust and uncertainty.

Putting myself out there right now, even through words, is extremely difficult and draining. I deeply value myself and my work and what I have to offer all of you. But certain recent events have forced me to question what writing really means to me. How it’s meant to fit into my life moving forward. Where I want to take it. How I want to use it.

To continue on pretending I have the confidence and stamina to offer help and advice to writers would be dishonest, if behind the screen I didn’t myself believe my words held any meaning.

I care about all of you and want to do whatever I can to help you succeed.

But not right now.

I will return — in a week? A month? A year? I don’t know.

I’ve lost my spark.

And I won’t return until I’ve found it again.

Take care of yourselves. Keep writing. Don’t give up.

But if you need to take a break … take a break. I doubt you’ll regret it.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.

12 Things Writers Can Actually Control

4. Whether or not you submit your work to an editor, publisher, agent, or publication — and when.

1. What you write about on your own time.

2. Your writing goals.

3. Whether or not you decide to write instead of doing … literally anything else.

4. Whether or not you submit your work to an editor, publisher, agent, or publication — and when.

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10 Things All Writers Must Learn About Rejection

2. It hurts because you care. Because you’re passionate about your work. You genuinely want to succeed.

1. It happens to everyone — but that doesn’t mean you have to pretend it doesn’t bother you.

2. It hurts because you care. Because you’re passionate about your work. You genuinely want to succeed.

3. It’s not always because you did something “wrong.” Sometimes, e.g., a pitch and a magazine just don’t match.

4. You will not bounce back from rejection the same way every time. Each will affect you differently. And that’s OK.

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12 Lessons My Creative Writing Mentor Taught Me

4. Learn how to write from people writing better than you.

1. You’re never so good at writing that you don’t need to practice, learn, or grow.

2. Sharing your work publicly isn’t optional.

3. It doesn’t matter how “bad” you think it is. Submit it. You have nothing to lose but your fear of failing.

4. Learn how to write from people writing better than you.

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10 Lies About Writing That Might Be Holding You Back

4. If writing is a struggle for you, it must not be “for you.”

1. Once you decide on a writing goal, you can never change it.

2. You should never tell other people about your ideas.

3. You need to have an advanced degree in writing or a related subject to be successful.

4. If writing is a struggle for you, it must not be “for you.”

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The 12 Habits of Writers Who Can Focus on More Than One Project at a Time

3. Recognizing the difference between opportunities and distractions.

1. Saying yes more often than you say no — but also saying no when your plate is full.

2. Setting ambitious yet manageable writing goals.

3. Recognizing the difference between opportunities and distractions.

4. Setting limits. A few projects at a time — great. After three or four, you’re kind of getting into “my head is spinning and I can’t sleep and also what are words” territory.

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10 Lessons Your Unfinished Writing Projects Will Teach You

4. Continuing to work on a project you have no passion for or interest in (just for the sake of finishing it) is never worth it.

1. Even 500 words of a story is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

2. You’ll forget about the unfinished stories that never would have landed anyway — and that’s OK.

3. You will forgive yourself for walking away. Most of the time, it’s for the best.

4. Continuing to work on a project you have no passion for or interest in is never worth it.

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The 12 Things No One Ever Tells You About Writing for Other People

Writing for companies and websites isn’t always the end goal, but it’s worth it.

1. You often, technically, do not own your work, even when your name is on it.

2. But working for a large company with a website can get you the exposure you need to branch out.

3. Not all writing opportunities will give you the chance to work closely one-on-one with an editor.

4. But the ones that do will change your life.

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