A note from Headbuzzer: A from Every Day has been posting on our Facebook page all throughout February! Today is A's final day, so David Levithan shared this note with us about Valentine's Day and his journey writing Every Day.
Funny Valentines and Every Day
Whoever put together the assembly must have had a pretty good sense of humor. Because there we were, a row of second graders singing “My Funny Valentine” to our favorite stuffed animals. This was my introductionto the song.
Perhaps you are not familiar with it. It was written by Rogers and Hart in 1937, and it’s a love song directed to the “funny valentine” of the title, whose looks are “laughable, unphotographable.” While most love songs are pretty straightforward (“Why can’t you see/ you belong with me,” etc.), this one is complicated, if not outright barbed. Love is present, absolutely. But there’s also an element of bragging to it, of putting the lover in his or her place—as if the singer is saying, No one else will love you... but I will.
I thought a lot about “My Funny Valentine” while writing Every Day. Not at first—I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into as I was getting myself into it. In writing about a person who changes bodies and lives every day, I thought my main preoccupation would be one of identity—asking the question, Who would you be if you had a different body and life every day? This seemed like more than enough to explore.
But then love came into it. Specifically, the love Rhiannon grows to feel toward A. Even though I wasn’t writing from her perspective, I had to feel things from her perspective in order to get her character right. Which raised a number of questions. Because, when it all comes down to it, A is about as funny a valentine as one can get. And the questions Rhiannon faces are the questions every lover faces, only extremely so: How much change can I bear? How much do I love who you are, and how much do I love what I see? Where does one stop and the other begin?
I won’t pretend to have come up with a definitive answer. I like to think I want a funny valentine... but could I have one without finding him, well, funny? This is definitely one of the challenges of love, and it was fascinating to explore it from such a different place.
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