Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Welcome Wednesday: Erica O'Rourke's High School Regret

There’s a fabulous song by the Austin/Chicago band Poi Dog Pondering that I was a huge fan of during high school, and to be honest, my enthusiasm for it hasn’t dimmed a whit in the intervening years. “Thanksgiving” is about the idea that you should be grateful for your past mistakes, because the bad decisions and regrettable incidents are what brought you to the place you are now.

“Would our paths cross if every great loss had turned out our gain?
Would our paths cross if the pain it had cost us was paid in vain?”

My teenage years were certainly a plethora of mistakes, from school to friends to guys. Some were annoying or inconvenient, and some were substantial and mind-bogglingly bad. But every single one of them set me on a specific path, and that path has led me here: married to a wonderful man, mother to three beautiful girls, rich in friends and family, and a published author. If that sounds too perky to be real, rest assured I have challenges and troubles. But they’re minor in the grand scheme of things. By and large, I’m incredibly fortunate to be living this life, and I have watched Back to the Future too many times to wish any part of my past away.

That being said, I do have one regret. And in true writerly fashion, I force Mo, the heroine of The Torn Trilogy, to face it in every book. It’s the decision to act or retreat. To choose what is safe and familiar over what is frightening and unknown. I don’t regret the things I did in high school; I regret not doing more. Not taking chances. It was always easier to play it safe – to not speak up for what was right, to not tell the boy I had a crush on how I felt, to not try out for the school play – than it was to take a big risk and put myself out there. Looking back, I wish I’d risked spectacular failure more often.

By design, Mo is a character who is happiest when she is observing. She was happy to let her best friend take the spotlight while she looked on. And when Verity dies, Mo is faced with two paths: to grieve her friend and continue her safe, sheltered existence or to risk everything – her life and her future and her heart – to find out the truth. At every turn, she has to make that decision again. Sometimes the gamble pays off, and she learns something crucial or enjoys a moment of victory. Sometimes she pays a terrible, terrible cost. But each time Mo takes a chance, she learns more about who she is and what she’s made of. It’s a difficult lesson, but an essential one.

I wish I’d known earlier that I would regret the things I didn’t do far, far more than the things I did. What’s a chance you wish you had taken, way back when?

Erica O’Rourke is the award-winning author of TORN and TANGLED,both available now. The conclusion to The Torn Trilogy, BOUND, will be published this summer. She lives outside of Chicago, where she drinks too much coffee and takes too few naps. To learn more, follow her on Twitter: @Erica_ORourke or visit her blog: www.ericaorourke.typepad.com

GIVEAWAY ALERT: As a special treat, Erica is giving away a copy of TORN and a copy of TANGLED to one lucky follower. How awesome is that? So how can you win?

1. Be a follower of this blog. (Click the blue button on the upper right-hand side of the page that says "Join this site.")

2. Leave a comment to this post and include your contact information. (yourname (at) email (dot) com).

3. Due to the prohibitive cost of international shipping, prize winners who are not US residents will receive electronic versions of the giveaway book. By participating, you agree to the rules set forth on the contest disclaimer page.

4. That's it! The contest closes Friday, February 10th, at midnight EST. At that time, we'll assign each comment a number and use random.org to choose the winner. If the winner doesn't respond within 48 hours, we'll choose another winner, and so on.
Good luck!


Annie McElfresh said...

Wow!! Thanks for the chance!



Melissa Landers said...

Great post, Erica! Thanks so much for joining us, and congrats on your series. The books sound awesome!

Lorie Langdon said...

Excellent blog, Erica! I'm a great observer of life myself. I love nothing more than to sit with a good cup of coffee and people watch at the local mall. But over the years I've learned to mix it up a bit and take calculated risks. As writers, we must embrace a certain amount of risk, right?
It's those damn rejections that kill you. ;-)
Thanks for visting with us!

Kimberly said...

There is only one regret that I have of something I wish I had done. I wish I had gone to Hollywood. Seriously. But I let my family talk me out of it with the scare of becoming just another starving actress. Every time I see another performance by Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock, I feel like they stole my role. And don't even get me started on the Carrie Bradshaw thing from Sex and the City. That was supposed to be for me! For me!!!! That darn Sarah Jessica Parker....grrrrr. Role stealer.
Anyway, I'm super duper excited to get my copy of Tangled. I ordered it several days ago, so it should be on its way. In the meantime, I am rereading Torn, and I'm enjoying every minute of it....AGAIN!
So, I don't need the copies.
Good luck, Erica! Loved your story. And, I think you learned to take chances! Every writer puts themselves out there, risking a little bit of their heart. Congrats. I'm glad you didn't take your bat and ball and go home! :-)

Stephsco said...

I hate thinking of regrets; I also try to frame it the light that all those decisions brought me to where I am today. Still, I would've broken up with my first boyfriend sooner, and dated the guys who were actually interested in me rather than chasing after guys who didn't care. I hate that I was like that and didn't get it that the geeks are the best guys around, HANDS DOWN. So many great quiet boys I just thought of as friends back then. But at least we were friends, right? :)

CareyCorp said...

Hi Erica - Welcome to Honestly YA. I already have TORN and TANGLED (I can't wait to read!). I blogged about this, but I wish I'd had the courage to fly my freak flag. Me in high school = freak on the inside, invisible on the outside.

I can't wait to see you at RT in Chicago. :)

Lynda Bailey said...


Great post. I first read it over my morning coffee, but I had to really think about what regrets I had from HS. I wasn't the shy kid who couldn't give a speech or try out for the school play. But make no mistake, I was an outsider. I wasn't a part of the "cool" group. Guess my single biggest regret was wasting good time and energy trying to be a part of the "cool" group. Maybe that's why I relate to heroines who are outcasts.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

Erica, great post! Nice to know there was someone else in the 'not taking enough risks' crowd. Glad you got over that and put your fiction out there so we can all enjoy it!

Gillian Layne said...

Oh, yes, I imagine if all of us had gathered together, the "afraid to take a chance" crowd would have been powerful indeed! My biggest mistake was continuing to date a boy who was all wrong just because I didn't want to "not" have a boyfriend. And he still dumped me. So foolish! And such a good learning experience. :)

Congratulations on Tangled!

Gillian Layne said...

Oh, I've followed, and added your link to my page. What an excellent blog you have here! :)

Cat Kalen said...

Great Post, Erica. I've heard such wonderful things about these stories. I'm looking forward to reading them!

Erin said...

Great post, Erica! Thank you for sharing with us! One of my biggest regrets from high school is also that I should have taken more risks and had more experiences. :) Your books sound amazing and I can't wait to read them. :)


Vanessa Barneveld said...

Yikes! So late to the party--sorry, Jen and Erica! Hmm, I could do with a plutonium-fueled DeLorean myself!

Congratulations on the release of TANGLED, Erica!