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Hi everyone,

Some of you may know that I'm writing this book about acne, which is partially true. I still need to find an agent (er, start finding one) who would be interested in this project. So, if anyone knows an agent who is interested in a book like this, please let me know!

Below is the first chapter of my "book." I need input. I haven't told anyone about except my immediate family. Gradually I think I will. I need comments, like this is weird, this is funny, confusing, etc. I don't really need "You are obsessive over acne," which some people have already written to me about my songs and whatnot. DUH. Of course I'm obsessive about acne. That's okay. I can't please everyone. But, please take a moment and read it...

Finally, I guess my motivation for writing this, among other things, is that I hope it can relate to people. It's a little like why Dan started this nice website. He wanted people to know his regimen for keeping skin clear. (My skin isn't absolutely clear yet) But instead of using cleansers, I use laughter and embarrassment of myself as a "cleanser" for acne. Well, read the first chapter and I'll shut up...

Scratch and poke

“The age of approximately 2 to 6 years is an "acne free zone," during which acne vulgaris rarely occurs.�

-AcneNet

http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/jun01.html

“Hey, Acne Woman!� I looked straight ahead of me. The scrawny, freckled, dimwitted sixth-grade classmate waved at me then turned around, chuckling with the rest of his friends. He really wasn’t much taller or intimidating. If I had the ability to go back in time, I would have said a suave comeback about his dumb metal braces. The comment came so quickly, though, that I had nothing to say in return. I stood stupidly, the same response I had when he called me “Mustache Girl,� for the facial hair above my lip, the other day during recess. (But that’s a different story. I started using Sally Hansen hair removal a few years later.) Name-calling is common in grade school, but other students had cute nicknames like Chip, Skip, Do-Dop, and Be-bop but I was known as Acne Woman.

Did this mean that I had superpowers? Superman, Wonderwoman, Batman, and Spiderman all did.

I always dreamed that I had superpowers as Acne Woman. If I had superpowers, this is how I would have responded to that boy’s sick remark:

Scenario 1: Freckled, dimwitted sixth-grader says, “Hey, Acne Woman!� I would grab hold of one of my thousand pimples on my forehead and quickly squeeze. Red acidic juice would exude from my skin and spray all over his face. Within 3 minutes, he would be one giant pimple!

Scenario 2: Freckled, dimwitted sixth-grader says, “Hey, Acne Woman!� I would give him the “look.� One long stare, and my Medusa-like power would turn him to stone! That would teach him not to mess with Acne Woman!

But none of that happened. None of that would ever happen. I was a failed superhero. I didn’t even have an understanding sidekick. I guess that would have never worked out anyway. Who would be my sidekick?

Acne Woman and Clearasil…no, that wouldn’t work because my partner could kill me. Acne Woman and Oil. That just sounded too gross. Acne Woman had to be alone.

So I was alone, but I tried to take my mind off the teasing by keeping myself busy during grade school. I acted in musicals, but I secretly wondered, was it my messy complexion that prevented me from landing good roles or was I simply an actress who lacked talent? Shy as I was, I didn’t complain and cheerfully sang in the chorus of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,� played a police in “Pirates of Penzance,� and morphed into other versatile roles. But after taking off the costumes and wiping off the makeup, I had to once again be myself, the role I hated the most. Somehow being myself was harder than memorizing lines and singing difficult tunes. At least playing a role on the stage, however insignificant it was, made me belong. I could easily accept that the audience was cheering me on. Despite the insecurities that would surface while I acted, I still relied on this activity as an outlet of creativity and (temporary) confidence.

Fortunately other activities had different requirements, including hand-eye coordination and agility. Instantly, I became a dedicated team member of the basketball and volleyball team. I loved the feeling of running, sweating, conditioning, and scrimmaging in a close team. The friendships I had with my grade school teammates were as close as the ones I formed in college. Moreover, during games, there were some moments when I felt important, even more so than as another chorus member in the play. It was exciting to save a volleyball from hitting the floor, to make a winning basket, or to help the team come back from a losing streak. But sometimes I just couldn’t avert my eyes from the photos of me and my teammates, for my parents took too many of them. While the rest of my face was beaming in a victorious smile, I was conceding defeat to another battle with acne. I even remembered one day during practice, an otherwise friendly teammate asked me, “Hey, Em, why do you have so many pimples?� She said this, while touching her olive complexion, as if I didn’t know what was going on upon one of the most visible parts of the human body. I just stood stupidly into my inquirer’s eyes and shrugged.

If I only knew. This was a burning question I wanted to be answered. Even more so, I wish I had the choice of which punishment I wanted to ruin my childhood. Why couldn’t I have been the girl with the big breasts or the girl with the unibrow? Or the girl who had her period earlier than the others? No, I was unfairly given the name of Acne Woman.

Of course I didn’t tell my parents about my new identity. I was very much introverted at times. Sometimes, right after school, I would hurry and hide in my room, behind my locked door, and start scratching and poking each dot.

Then I would fret. Why were there so many different shapes, sizes, and colors of them? Or, why were there so many names? Blackhead, whitehead, pimple, and zit. Did it really matter how you referred to them? They all provided equal torment. One by one, sometimes blood and yellow pus would come out. One by one, they fell out onto the clean, white paper I set on my bed.

One by one, I was hoping that each one would permanently leave my face in a snap.

I knew that this rebellious action was wrong and against the rules. I acted the same way as when I had chicken pox when I was four. I remembered being quarantined in a small room, watching Julie Andrews sing “Just a Spoonful of Sugar,â€? and itching my chicken pox. Reminders of my foolishness include a scar on my thumb, three on my left arm, and many still scattered sporadically around my body. So, undeniably, I knew that scratching and poking was committing a heinous crime. My mom and the magazines unanimously said “no poking at blemishes!â€? because that would create scars! I couldn’t help it, though. It’s like telling a man who has dandruffâ€â€and he really did try Head and Shoulders as suggestedâ€â€to discontinue scratching his head. I had built up this obsession to scratch and poke my enemies. And, each time it seemed like a win, I had this temporary euphoria, where, for a brief moment, I could pretend that my skin would be clean. Soon, I could rush down to the family room and make a flashy entrance during CBS Nightly News: Hi, mom and dad, I have news for you: My skin is clear! I am a normal child after all!

I always made the other choice instead: never coming out of my room. Then I would hear a faint voiceâ€â€my mother’s concerned voice behind my closed doors, “Emily, what are you doing?â€?

Me: Oh, nothing mom…Homework! (Go away!)

Scratching.

And poking.

One by one.

Scratching.

I was creating scars.

What do I mean, though?

Poking.

I already had scars. I was just making them more visible to the public eye.

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I enjoyed reading this. Good idea for a book. Takes some guts but the more personal you make it the better it would be. Most people don't know the torment acne sufferers go through.

People say things on these message boards that they never would in real life. This autobiography of an acne sufferer idea could definitely be an interesting book.

Sorry I don't know any literary agents, but good luck, I'd like to read the rest. I could help you edit or proofread it possibly if you need that sort of help, I used to work as a journalist and a proofreader.

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Funny thing is, You probably should have no mention of acne in the title, because some people will be embarrassed to be seen reading the book on the train or wherever, especially if they have acne also.

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Hey that was excellent! keep it up.

I agree with mliq about the title though.

I like the way you put in your secret powers, adds an edge to you as a person rather than just portraying you as a one dimensional acne freak.

It's good that you are descriptive and bring family life into it (i.e. mother and homework...what you think as well as contrasting what you actually end up saying), it helps the reader get to know you.

Best wishes and Goodluck with it!

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you guys are the greatest!!

: )

the title will be theperpleXingpimple

and maybe the X would fall onto a zit or something...and the zit will be big, red, with black flip flops (haha, one of the zits talks in the book that's why...)

anyway, maybe I'll display more chapters later...

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I guess I've been trying to see if I could hook some famous people into promoting this book...It's weird this publishing business...but anyway, I hear that Christopher Knight of the Brady Bunch has been talking to teens about acne, with his Healthy Skin/Healthy Outlook campaign. And there are several other campaigns out there too. But if anyone else also knows of any ways to promote this, that'd be awesome!

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Umm if I may add one little correction if you don't mind. Where you put

played a police in “Pirates of Penzance,�

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