This guest post was kindly written by Joya Goffney, author of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry.
Lists calm me. Emotions and tasks and memories take up so much space in my head—they’re heavy. So when I can’t hold them in anymore, I write lists of all the things I need to do, lists of everything in my past that I need to heal from, lists of everything in my present that won’t let me sleep. Then, eventually, I get to work.
Back in high school, I would write one ultimate list per year of all the things I wanted to accomplish—usually they were silly little social tasks, like go a day only singing or hug a random boy. But my senior year, I decided to take the list seriously. I added life-changing tasks to the list like getting my first kiss and finding new friends—neither of which went very smoothly. But like in Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, there was a boy.
He started out as my nemesis. In my podunk East Texas hometown, he was the other nerdy Black kid, and because of this, we were often pitted against each other. Resentment grew into hatred, especially because he was kind of a bully to me. But I often found it hard to stay mad at him, because he was so funny. And because he was in the same position as me—nerdy, Black, widely considered an Oreo—I felt like I could trust him.
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One night, in the chaos of a home football game, I showed him my list. I showed him my secrets about my friends, my desires to get my first kiss, and all the silly things in between, and he took them without judgment. Like Carter helps Quinn complete her to-do list, my guy helped me—and that was the start of my very own romcom. We celebrate nine years together in July!
I got the idea for Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry after remembering those lists from high school and that one fantastic year when I was so brave. In 2018, when I was writing this book, I felt incredibly stuck—in my job, in an apartment with noisy neighbors, in a life that wasn’t going according to plan—and I thought that maybe I just needed to make another list. That maybe all I needed to do was be brave, and at the time, the only way I knew how to do that was by writing about a girl who is.
Want to start reading Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, the gorgeous debut by Joya Goffney asap? (Of course you do!) Well, simply follow the instructions in the tweet below for your chance to win a limited proof copy:
Can't wait to read @joya_goffney's gorgeous debut? We have two proof copies of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry to giveaway: 🥳
— United By Books (@unitedbybks) May 7, 2021
Get your copy of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney here.