I had never considered writing YA fiction until Nathan Bransford initiated his teen-diary-excerpt contest. As I read through the entries, I suddenly felt depressed and full of angst. I also experienced a fair amount of disbelief due to the sheer volume of entries that used school and teenage rebellion as their springboards into the psyche of teenage girls. I can’t imagine being a teenage girl and desiring to write about school in my diary. I also can’t imagine writing nasty things about my parents for these reasons: I had a reasonable relationship with my parents, but, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have wanted my mother to discover the nasty things I said about her; and trust me, mothers are quite handy at discovering even the secretest things.
Over the years, I’ve managed to hang onto only one of my teen journals, and I flipped through and discovered that, indeed, the topic of school never cropped up, and I rarely wrote anything about my parents. I hinted vaguely about love, but mostly I masked the real events of my life in poetic and fantastical language, so that, if discovered, the reader would think I lived an enchanting life. I have to add that I did a fair amount of name-dropping to make me look intelligent: I wrote about John Locke and Hemingway and quoted poetry by T.S. Eliot. I also wrote my own poetry–lyrical ditties with queer turns of expression. If you look up at the image, you will see the train I rode nearly every day in my junior and senior year, and where I did most of my writing.
I must admit that my journal inspired me to enter this contest. Instead of the usual WTFs and OMGs, I copied the overly poetic and slightly pretentious tone of my high school writing. And I found that I liked it. I could write an entire book in a similar manner. Maybe I will. For all that I’ve learned over the years from a creative writing degree and writing conferences and a critique group and various classes; for all that I’ve become a polished author who knows all the ‘rules’, I’ve lost my youthful charm. If I could combine the charm with the polish, I might write some winning fiction.
YA fiction just might be the way to invoke a youthful spirit back into my words!