Me in my natural state. All black, red scarf. Note the complete lack of radioactive orange.

Remember that bright orange dress I was so excited to wear at the Vegas Valley Book Festival? Well, yesterday I peeled it out of my closet as an option to wear to my MIL’s birthday party. And I noticed that it was a radioactive color of orange not found in nature. Then I tried it on. And I noticed I was draped in a color that could possibly burn holes in people’s retinas if they stared at it too long. (Apologies to anyone who stared at it for too long in Las Vegas.)

Why ever did I buy this dress — not to mention its little drapey matching sweater???

In real life, I wear a lot of black cashmere when it’s cold and billowy, muted-colored linen the rest of the time. I like white shirts. I have a substantial collection of (somewhat) little black dresses and bright(er) pashminas. In real life, the only orange item I own is a gossamer-thin scarf. And a handbag that might have been a mistake.

My conclusion is that somehow, when I get into author mode, I don’t think of it as real life. The sitting on my sofa writing the books, yes. The getting out there and being a public person defined by my YA authorness, no. And given that it’s not real life, I can drape that author-person in any old glitzy thing and be…I don’t know…sparkly?

I think that unnaturally orange dress defines the huge gap between the way I see myself and the way I thought I was supposed to be as a YA author. So much for the message of finding and being true to your authentic self.

And so much for the dreadful dress.

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