Thursday, September 7, 2017

Third Novel Plot and Dating Break Revelations

Since I'm not publishing the novel, I'm going to give you ALL the spoilers. Keep in mind: this is a bare bones summary and my target demographic is young women between the ages of 16 and 24.

Isabella ("Izzy") Sonora visits her best friend, Zoe Walker, in London post-college graduate in hopes to figure out what she wants to do -- work or go to grad school. Izzy and Zoe met freshman year of college before Zoe (an actress) booked a role that catapulted her to fame abroad. When Izzy arrives in London, she sees that Zoe is living with her actor boyfriend, Rodrigo (professionally known as "Rory") Dominguez. Izzy informs Zoe that 1) Zoe never told her that she'd been living with Rory, and 2) that she should've known that Izzy would be uncomfortable in that situation because of her faith and beliefs. Cue big fight that doesn't quite get fully resolved. Despite this, the girls make up and Izzy gets a small taste of what life in the limelight is like (from the outside; going to premieres and events with Zoe).

Rory (who was working on his popular TV show abroad for the first 2 months of Izzy's visit) returns to London. Rory is kind and thoughtful, even going as far as limiting PDA so that Izzy feels more comfortable. Rory discovers that Izzy sings and plays the guitar. After some convincing, he gets her to agree to do some covers on his YouTube channel with the condition that no one finds out her true identity. Rory has literally millions of followers on his social media accounts and Izzy wishes to remain anonymous. They change her name and they film her from different angles, keeping fans guessing throughout the 7 videos they make over the span of 3 months.

Subplot: Izzy meets Grace Mitchell, another famous actress (more so than Zoe and Rory) who becomes like a big sister to Izzy. Grace doesn't buy into the fame game. She doesn't even have a way for fans to contact her via social media though she's always friendly when she meets them in person. Izzy gets both perspectives of the entertainment business: selling yourself/your brand to become more famous (Zoe and Rory) vs. doing things for the love of the craft and eschewing the superficial side (Grace).

Eventually, Izzy finds herself emotionally attached to Rory despite her best efforts not to be. All the time spent together, all the things they've shared, leaves her confused. Grace takes her away to Bath for a week to get her mind straightened out since it's Izzy's last month of vacation. When Izzy returns to London, she finds an enraged (and clearly drunk) Zoe in denial over her breakup with Rory, who moved out and returned back to work while Izzy was away. Zoe kicks Izzy out of her flat, no explanation given. Grace takes Izzy to stay at her home with her new husband, Ben. Izzy sees what a solid, stable relationship looks like, a breath of fresh air after seeing the impassioned and volatile relationship that Zoe and Rory had.

Someone leaks Izzy's identity as "Lily" (her YouTube alias) to the press. Furthermore, this person blames her for the Zoe-Rory breakup. Rory informs Izzy that it was Zoe who leaked the info and started the rumors because she thought that they were seeing each other behind her back. A "friend" of Zoe's told her she frequently saw Izzy and Rory "meeting outside a church." What the "friend" didn't know (but the readers knew all along) was that Rory had helped Izzy sneak off to Mass for months because Zoe used to fake serious illnesses and did everything she could to keep Izzy from going to Mass. Zoe is seriously anti-religion (which was a surprise to Izzy; Zoe had always been supportive up until Izzy wasn't happy with the Zoe-Rory living arrangement) while Rory is agnostic but he respects Izzy's beliefs. In the end, Zoe is exposed and all the things she did to sink Izzy and Rory's reputations backfire quite spectacularly.

The rest of the novel (which I didn't get a chance to flesh out) would've dealt with Izzy having to make big two decisions. First, she had to figure out whether she wanted to attend graduate school in England (University of Bath), do an internship with a photographer friend of Grace's (who, surprise, was going to be Will from the Will and Lina series), or accept Rory's manager's proposal to sign as an artist to start her own music career (she was not interested in acting).

The second big decision was Rory. He confessed his feelings for her and even wanted to move to L.A. to be with her. Izzy would end up rejecting him. He had a lot of faults that she couldn't overlook; that she knew he couldn't/wouldn't give up especially in the areas of lust, sloth, and gluttony. (side note: Zoe and Rory were going to embody the 7 deadly sins between them while Izzy Grace would exhibit the 7 capital virtues throughout the novel; Zoe was the mirror opposite of Grace, Rory of Izzy).

Keep the plot in mind as I now tell you what really happened to me and how this led to my dating break...

There exist a real-life Zoe and Rory and their lives are very similar to their fictional counterparts. That's all I will say. Unfortunately, like Izzy, I also ended up developing feelings for real-life Rory. That's what got me in trouble from January through July of this year. I used to say "Oh, he's like a brother to me," but I realized that wasn't true. An emotional attachment that had developed and it affected me in ways I didn't realize until it was too late. You'd think a 31/32-year-old would know better but, oh, that's when the devil likes to mess things up; when you let your guard down and think you'll be fine. Don't let your guard down and keep God in the center of everything, even things you think you've got under control.

I never approve but I became desensitized to real-life Zoe and Rory's living together. It wasn't until the end that real-life Zoe was crassly open about things that should be left between two (married) people that I snapped out of it. I somehow didn't realize real-life Rory's problem with giving into excess and a number of other things that slowly pulled me away from the faith. I was sucked in by the kindness, the laughter, the fun, and other (superficial) good things that unintentionally made me overlook what put me in danger. I began to have doubts. I began to think that perhaps this was the right path before because I was a terrible Catholic. Oh, sweet, dumb Emmy. Thankfully, God was with me throughout it all so I didn't fall away completely... but, boy, it was a close call at one point.

Another way God has humbled me lately: I'm not as strong (spiritually or emotionally) as I thought I was. I realized that through this experience. I'm not as smart as I thought. I'm not immune to making really dumb decisions and overlooking red flags. I also don't know the faith as well as I would like, which is pushing me more into the lay Dominican path.

Because real-life Zoe and Rory were a big part of my daily life, it was hard for me to gently remove myself from their lives. I made a point to not see them or see what they were up to. Communication ceased. I blocked them from private social media accounts. I erased all virtual traces I could from my laptop and connected devices. Unfortunately, they'll still pop up unexpectedly but I know how to get myself out of those situations.

After that happened, I was shaken up... and inspired to work on my relationship with God. I knew that I needed to work on myself and my anemic spiritual life before I could go forward in any future vocation discernment. I've known my vocation is being a wife and mother (someday) but I cannot build a solid family on a rocky, unstable foundation (especially with my spiritual life in tatters) so my self-imposed dating break began. I actually considered discerning becoming a consecrated single for a couple of weeks recently before I was reminded of the peace and certainty I've felt discerning the marriage vocation.

The novel was me (mainly) working through the feelings and making sense of everything. I began to write the novel around May-June when I was slowly getting out of months worth of me being confused over my situation with real-life Rory. It was when I started writing things out that I was able to work through it all. The feelings that once existed for real-life Rory are no longer there. In fact, I can't even look at him without feeling repulsed. My spiritual life is back on track though it's going to take a while for me to get to where I was.

And, there you have it. The novel plot and the story behind the inspiration for it. I had hoped to inspire young(er) women to look at their relationships, their friendships, and their faith carefully so that they wouldn't fall into the same trap I did but I'm now seeing that perhaps an honest blog post would work better.

Also, to any young blog reader who gets a bit starry-eyed and dreams of a life like those of celebrities: please be careful. Things aren't what they seem. I'm a bit cynical when it comes to the biz because I've grown up around it and I've seen what it does to people... and I claim temporary insanity from December of last year to July of this year for thinking I could return without it affect me or my faith. I walked away from all of that when I was 20 and (despite the massive temptations to go back and work as a screenwriter last year and this year) choosing to stay away from it is what is best for me on a spiritual, emotional, mental, and even physical level.

By the way, this all connected to my St. Andrew Christmas novena and 54-day Rosary novena intentions from Advent last year because I asked God to help me reject worldly, superficial things that would hurt my soul... which came from last year's temptation to chuck it all away and return to my pre-reversion career path. What I didn't anticipate was that I was going to be tested in a way that all the worldly, superficial things were going to be presented in a neat, pretty package with sparkles and would blind me and make my anemic faith even more fragile for months. I'm incredibly grateful to God for opening my eyes because I was in a terrible place. I know that I had to go through all of this to be able to grow in my relationship with him.

That is the whole truth behind the novel inspiration, the dating break (though part two of this is coming soon), and why it's best that the novel doesn't see the light of day. It took all of this to get me to where I am now and I'm truly grateful for all the prayers and support from friends who knew what was going on and prayers from those who didn't know what was going on but could sense that I was going through a hard time. I'm still working on my relationship with God so everything else will have to wait.

That's it for now. I actually wrote this on the night of the 6th because I want to dedicate all of the 7th and 8th to finishing what is due on the 8th so, you know, if you leave my comments I won't see them until the thing is turned in. Just a heads up. :)

I hope you are all doing well!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

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