I have always loved telling stories.
So here’s a story:
Before we get into the nitty gritty details, we need to get a solid foundation. One of my favorite movies of all time is Master of Disguise, a horrible, low-budget Dana Carvey movie. He’s a hilarious voice actor, so his different voices and impersonations are the redeeming aspects of the movie. In one scene, he walks up to a waiter serving appetizers. He says,
“Do you have a little wiener and some tiny nuts? I could tell just by looking at you that you have a little winer and some TINNNNNY nuts.”
The waiter ends up actually having miniature hotdogs and peanuts with him, so the entire situation is ironic. I sadly did not understand the word play in this particular moment…
I was homeschooled until my freshman year of high school. I was pretty innocent and extremely naive and didn’t really know anything about life, especially anything to do with “little wieners and tiny nuts.” I walked into the doors of my high-school in the fall of 2011 not at all sure what to do with myself. So, when I heard there was a party one Friday night, I decided this would be my chance to make friends.
I walked into this party on that dreaded Friday night. It was dark and people were dancing and I barely knew anyone. I felt self-conscious and extremely alone. So, like any sad and lonely person at a party, I went straight for the food. Lucky for me, they had miniature hotdogs. Ah! The perfect icebreaker!
There was a boy standing by these hotdogs. So, knowing I had the perfect joke up my sleeve and a pretty darn good Dana Carvey impersonation, I found my confidence, glided over to the boy, and said:
“Can I ask you a question?
Do you have a little wiener and some tiny nuts?
I could tell just by looking at you that you have a little winer and some TINNNNNY nuts.”
As the words spit out of my mouth and I watched his face contort in confusion and offense, I finally got the joke. Turns out it wasn’t all about Dana Carvey’s funny voice. Oops.
This moment marks the monumental moment where I first realized that I’m an awkward person. There were countless moments after the “little wiener” incident where I embarrassed myself, from accidentally eating my date’s hair at my high school formal to telling a boy his most attractive feature was his “symmetrical” face. Luckily, I like telling stories, and my awkward life produces a lot of story-worthy moments.
Combine my love of stories and my awkward life, and a pretty solid memoir could be created. Because of this notion, when I saw the creative engagement prompt #80 was to design a book, I was very excited to start. I knew the minute I saw the prompt that I would call the book Awkward Encounters because, if we’re being completely honest, that phrase accurately describes my entire life. I immediately brainstormed all of my most embarrassing, awkward moments and narrowed it down to my 15 favorites. Since I wanted this book to be a memoir, I figured each chapter should be more than a story, so I next thought about each story in a critical way and deciphered a theme or moral I could glean out of the encounter. Once I sketched a rough outline of what this book would look like, I named the chapters and organized them in a way that made sense to me. The chapters are as follows:
I. Introduction: Do You Have a Little Weiner?
1. So Here’s a Cupcake
2. Symmetric Faces
3. You Ate My Hair…
4. I Love You. Oops.
5. Wait, Your Name Isn’t Kat?
6. I Have This Knife
7. Those are 36Cs, yeah?
8. Humpty Dumpty Isn’t The Only One Who Falls
9. Are You Screenshotting This Convo?
10. Caught in the Act
11. Don’t Stop on Account of Me
12. Self-Diagnosed Lead-Follow
13. Why Is It Wet?
14. 2 Date Tyler
15. But, You’re Twice My Age
Each chapter is a very real, very awkward story from my life. But, as my mom always told me, “all of life is learning,” and trust me, I’ve learned a lot from these different moments. Once I collected my thoughts, I decided to start designing my book. I used my favorite design website, Canva, to create the book cover, table of contents, and cover pages for the various sections of the book. The book cover is my personal favorite: it’s just a bunch of awkward photos of myself. Two of them are from my freshman year of high school and two are from this year at Purdue.
Because I am actually interested in writing a memoir, I decided to look up tips on what to do and what not to do with this genre of literature. I did not look this up until after I finished my project, so I was sad to see I broke a few of the rules. The best piece of advice I found was from a website called “The Creative Pen.” The author of the post, Dana Sitar, advises not to get too attached to your work. It is important “not to ignore vital feedback,” even if when writing about topics that are close to the heart. This is important for me to remember because these events all happened to me- they are real, vivid memories that I feel strongly about. If I would ever move forward with something like this, I would have to detach myself from the emotion of it all during the editing phase so I could truly take feedback and apply it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this project. It gave me a reason to look into something that I’ve always been interested in, and gave me a break from the rigorous routine of “normal” assignments. It turns out I may be more creative than I ever thought.
Sitar, Dana. “7 Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Your Memoir.” The Creative Penn. N.p., 07 Sept. 2016. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.