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oat327

"The Best Four Years of Adam Becker" by oat327

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Hey everybody--wanted to create a discussion forum for my new story, "The Best Four Years of Adam Becker."

 

Adam Becker wants out. Out of the shadow of his popular big brother, out from his stifling D.C. prep school, out from the political spotlight of his high-ranking Republican father.

 

So when he heads off on his own to college in New Orleans, one year post-Katrina, he gets more than he bargained for: four years of friendship, love, secrets, hurricanes, and debauchery--his best four years yet.

 

 

 

I started writing this story about two years ago. I was going through a difficult breakup--my boyfriend had moved to New York, and I had no intention of leaving D.C. I was also leaving my first job out of college, at a political nonprofit, and I intended to write a novel about my experiences in the 2012 election cycle.

 

But I couldn't get past the first chapter. And, after writing the same iteration of the same opening scene over and over again, I figured I'd rewind a bit--and write a fictional series loosely based on my memories from college, and what was going on in my life. I never intended anyone to read this: this was my way of creating on on-ramp to the eventual novel, sharpening my skills, and getting words on a page.

 

I've written the story through the beginning of senior year--but over the last six months or so, I felt my energy beginning to wane. So I figured I would edit it, chapter by chapter, and put it online here--find an audience, and feel like I'm writing for someone, rather than into the abyss. So far, no one's read this but me--even my college friends, who provided a lot of character and plot inspiration, have read only brief excerpts--but I hope you enjoy it.

 

Thanks for reading!

Edited by oat327
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I've only read the first chapter so far, but I'm impressed. Well written with interesting characters! I'm looking forward to reading more when I get a chance.

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Thanks, Graeme! Glad you're enjoying it so far--plenty more to come.

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I'm enjoying it as well. I started reading it when it was Nick Becker. Then you did all those back and forth name changes.  Confused the heck out of me for a bit. You are aware that you can also respond to the reviewers in the review section? Just another good thing about GA. Adding a link to this thread in the author notes at the end of chapters might help with your feedback.

Edited by drpaladin
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Did not know I could reply to reviews actually--thanks for the heads up. Still figuring things out.

 

Yeah, name change after the first chapter was a little unexpected (has since been updated though) but basically I had changed the characters names to what was originally posted when I went through final editing, but realized I'd have to comb through every chapter to keep them consistent. Ultimately decided that was going to get progressively harder as more characters entered the story, so I just reverted back to the character names as originally written and tore off the band aid before we got too far.

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Posted Chapter 7 this morning--make sure you check it out! As always, feedback is very welcome and much appreciated!

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Yes, I'm still enjoying it. Even the frustrating trip to Wally World.

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Hey, I gotta tell you, as a guy who attended college from 2005 to 2010, I'm loving the hell out of this. You're doing a great job of recreating that mid-2000's college feel. I loved that line about guys wearing candy-colored polos. All you're missing is a reference to New Balance suede sneakers. LOL.

 

Do you need an editor? Because I picked up on some mistakes in the first few chapters. (Not the year though, I mistakenly thought this was set in '05.)

 

In any event, I really liked the sex scene between Kevin and Adam. It felt very awkward and real.

Edited by methodwriter85
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Hey, methodwriter85--just seeing this now. Actually, probably could use an editor: I started writing this piece quite a while ago, and I've been going back and editing--but it's a lot of content editing, not copyediting, so sometimes typos and stuff still slip by me when my eyes are glossed over and I'm hitting submit. Glad you're liking it otherwise, though! (I'll have to sneak in New Balance suede sneakers somewhere: those were everywhere, weren't they?)

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Patrick Manfind is going to be his pledge brother. That'll be interesting.

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I've been reading this story for a while. It's one I always look forward to a new chapter.

The writing makes the reader (me) really interested in these characters.

I hope chapter 15 is on the way!!

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Like Skinnydragon, I've kept my eyes out for posts in this story.  In some ways, I kind of feel like I'm watching a slow motion train wreck; that something really, really hard to see is about to happen.  But it's fascinating anyway, and the characters are engaging and well drawn. 

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Train wreck? Or Tough life choices?

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So, chapter 15 is finally posted! Step right up.

 

Also, my apologies for the long gap between this chapter and the last one--it's been a hectic summer for work and freelance. Plus, while most of this entire piece is already written, this chapter was missing key scenes--so, basically, it required a lot more time to get it ready for public consumption, and I wound up throwing out the entire first draft about two weeks ago anyway. But, long story short, I didn't forget about this story and I plan on seeing it through to the very end.

 

It's interesting to see the split, on here, between whether or not Becker faces certain train wrecks or just needs to make tough life choices. In some ways, those go hand-in-hand. Becker is, in many ways, defined by his lack of trust in himself, and his resulting inability to take bold action. There's obviously train wrecks looming on the horizon (obvious to us, but obvious to him as well), but his challenge is whether or not he can make the tough decisions to avoid them. We'll soon see!

 

Anyway, thank you all again for reading and commenting (and for your patience!)--this piece has really been a blast to write. It's, of course, a work of fiction, but a lot of it's based on friends, relationships, and situations that actually happened--at least in some capacity; I sought to capture the spirit of our time at college, not necessarily chronicle it faithfully. Though the inspiration for Jordan (who actually is one of the few characters that turned out virtually identical to their real world counterpart), who read a few excerpts, assured me that I'm more well-adjusted than Becker, so I guess that's a good sign at least.

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I had saved a copy of the first chapter of Nick Becker to read later. And then I read the first chapter of Adam Becker. I decided I'd check Nick to see what was going on because I realized that Nick wasn't Adam's brother or anything. After a while, I realized you'd probably rewritten the story after I'd saved the first chapter. Kind of confusing though.

 

i never went to college, so all of these experiences are foreign to me other than what I've seen in movies and TV or read elsewhere. All the characters are so different from me and I sometimes want to shake them and ask them why they're doing what they're doing!

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I know, I had initially changed all of the characters' names from the original draft (to differentiate it from a related piece of fiction that I wanted to keep separate), but it wound up being too cumbersome, so I just restored the originals rather than having to deal with it every chapter. Sorry for the confusion!

 

And yes, college is an interesting time: where you're an adult, but not quite. And I think there's such a mystique set to it--I remembered my parents always talking about how college is the most fun you'll ever have in your life, and I think that gives it a lot to live up to. For me, I recently found a journal I kept for about 6-8 months during my junior year of college--and everything going on just seemed so insurmountable and convoluted, even though I look back on that time so fondly in hindsight. I started writing the first draft of this piece a little over three years ago, back when college was substantially more fresh in my mind, but it's always interesting when I edit it and get to revisit it. It's a work of fiction, and the plot line veered dramatically away from my own experiences pretty early on, but many of the characters and many of the sentiments are still rooted far more than anything else I've written in real people, which I think always makes this project special for me.

 

At any rate, thanks for reading--glad you're enjoy it! There's plenty more to come!

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Hey, I'm glad you're back posting! Really interested in seeing where this "Peter" and "Adam" stuff is going. What I find really interesting is the way Adam sees himself, vs, how other people see him. He seems really to buy into the idea that he's just a big wallflower who can't possibly stand up to his other two siblings, but so much seems to contradict this. There's Chris Baker, who salivated the entire year over getting him into the frat because I bet otherwise there would have been a big bidding war over Adam. There's Jackie Hughes, who wanted him. Then there's the comment that Kevin made about how much Adam looks like his brother, which Adam immediately dismisses because his brother is just so much better-looking.

 

Anyway...I always do this with every story I read...my mental image for Kevin O'Malley:

 

5da165673e41f578b4e0fc16f99d38c1.jpg

 

I have him pictured as a pale, lanky guy with blue eyes and thick dark hair.

 

I don't really have a mental image for Adam, though. I feel like it's been kept deliberately vague about what Adam looks like, although my guess would be a skinny, cute preppy type. I'm not even sure if I picture him as a blond or having dark hair.

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You're not that far off from how I see Kevin! I honestly couldn't tell you myself how I see Adam--cute, skinny, preppy are all probably apropos--but he's the one character I never really picture. I know I haven't described him in text. Maybe it's a function of writing in first person (which I rarely do, aside from this story), but in my mind, I see a lot of the scenes play out through his eyes. So I don't know. Philip I always pictured with dark brown hair, if that's anything.

 

For Becker, yeah, I think a lot of his problems are rooted in his self-doubt--the belief that he has to put on a (differently-named) show for different people in order to be loved. Unfortunately for him, that's not a problem that disappears with coming out. I think for Becker, he very much needs to be in control of how he's perceived; he's spent his life keeping secrets, so getting to decide who sees what and knows what is very cathartic to him. Of course, as with anything, secrets rarely stay contained. Which is what he'll have to deal with, starting pretty soon.

New chapter is up, by the way!

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Hey, glad you're updating again and we get to see the start of Adam's sophomore year!

 

Fall 2007 is a very vivid time for me, for a lot of reasons both good and bad.

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Glad I'm updating again too! I had hit a wall with a few things about sophomore year (plus work getting crazy again) so the first chapter of sophomore year unfortunately sat. And sat. And sat. But we're up to 3 sophomore chapters now, so moving along.

We're actually reaching a point where the plot is going to start driving the narrative very quickly--which makes each chapter so much easier to write--so hopefully I can keep up with speedy updates.

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Kevin was truly hysterical in this chapter. And I loved this bit:

 

“I think you’re getting worked up over something that no one else noticed,” he replied. “But, at some point, we’re going to have to make a game plan for coming out. Not just as gay, but we have to tell everyone that we’ve been in some torrid, secret, sexual romance for months. I know that terrifies you to your very being, but you’re just going to have to grow up and accept that it is inevitable, I’m sorry.” He closed his eyes. “But not while I’m hungover, okay?”

 

I mean, Kevin's right. Adam is delusional if he thinks he can keep up the charade for another year. A series of hook-ups with different guys would be one thing, but he's in an actual relationship.

 

I also get a kick out of how Kevin is all possessive and shit of Adam. (Not in a bad way, but just in a "you're mine" kind of way.) It's sweet. You're doing a good job of making this relationship feel real and not some patented Nifty Archive romance.

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