Thursday, August 4, 2011

Living with the Teenager inside my head.

I was a teenager longer ago than I care to actually do the math on. Before cell phones. Before Texting and Facebook and Twitter. I had no idea what a blog was. Man, truth be told, I learned how to type on a TYPEWRITER. I had little nail polish like tubes of white out when I wrote essays in high school and then college.

I could go on and on about the old days. But I won’t. I know there are differences being a teen today of course. It’s a faster pace, and teens are more sophisticated in many ways. They certainly have better clothes and cars! But some of things don’t change despite advances in technology or changes in social norms.

Because I write teen fiction I spend a lot of time thinking like a teen. Or trying to remember feelings that were so important to me as a teen. I purposely go there in my head especially when I’m trying to figure out how my characters would act or talk or what they would do in a situation. And of course, I read teen fiction all the time. I’m not complaining, trust me. I love teen fiction. Writing it and reading it. But one side effect is that I dream about my teen years and my teen friends all the time. And I am so not a teenager. But I remember things perhaps more clearly than people who don’t write stories about this time in their lives.

I was taken back when someone I know (my sister in law actually) told me she read I’M NOT HER and was surprised by the drinking party in the opening scene. She said things must have changed since she was a kid since she couldn’t remember the teen years being like that. My brows wrinkled and I held in a huge raspberry sound like Pssssssshaaaaaaaaaaaaawwww.

Um. This was a woman who partied A LOT when she was a teen. I know that for a fact. But I simply said, well, it certainly happens and I did when I was a teen. Then I laughed and said I was actually worse than any characters in I’M NOT HER, since I was kind of a rotten teen. And then she laughed too, and said she did a lot of things too when she was a teen that would be too risqué for books. And yeah, I thought to myself. I kind of knew hat. Hmm. So when I thought about it later, I wondered if her initial reaction was like a memory loss or if it was denial or what? I’m still not sure.

It made me think about how connected I feel to teen experiences. Not that I think I’m a just like a teen and super hip and young and could totally hang with them and stuff. God knows teens certainly don’t want me and my age spots walking up to them and trying to hang. And I’m way beyond wanting that. I’m pretty much a mom and in my mind teens are like little kids. Only bigger. With more attitude.

But I feel a rather spiritual connection to what it is like to be a teen. That transitional time when the world is emotional and raw. Everything is dramatic! I love exploring stories with a teen brain and for me that includes seeing the worlds they live in with as authentic an eye I can. Drinking, drugs and sex don’t scare me. I don’t want to preach to teens, but I do like to think that I explore consequences of actions. I try not to judge. I like teenagers. I remember being one.

Anyhow, I better like them because in three more years my house will be filled with them. Hopefully I’ll still be writing teen books and talking to the teen in my head. It should horrify me son. I’ll try to check back and let you know.


  1. My house is already filled with them, which is interesting. I enjoyed this post very much--that intensity of first experiences is what draws me to YA...apparently, I never outgrew this intensity and it's great to be able to channel it into stories!

  2. Yes, I agree with your sister law. Teens today are wild and out of control. the book is great. love it.

  3. You just summed up what I love about YA: "But I feel a rather spiritual connection to what it is like to be a teen. That transitional time when the world is emotional and raw. Everything is dramatic!"

    Not a huge fan of the sex and booze thing b/c that wasn't my experience in high school. Seriously, no. Never went to a party like that. But there are plenty of emo YA books for people like me. :)

    I read and write YA because it's interesting and exciting and because teens still believe in fairy tales enough to crave the offbeat and paranormal stories I love.

    I'm excited for my kids' teen years, too. It's the scariest time of life, but also the time where possibilities are literally endless.

  4. My guess would be you and I are around the same was big news at my college when they put two computers in the basement of each dorm that got this amazing thing called the internet..and email (which most of us couldn't figure out!). My oldest is 10, so we're getting close to those teen years - I both look forward to and fear them at the same time!