OMG! I Wish I Were Still Sixteen (not really)

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!

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2 comments

  1. Here I'll tell you my truth as a girl I made lists and I still do. I've never been to a writer's conference, I don't have a writing degree nor have I a critique group and I'm suffering for it. I research, read a ton of romance novels then set out to write my novels.
    Now you are wondering if there is a point to my ramblings and there is…It is all about our journeys. You more than likely would not appreciate your youthful charms as much if it was not for you new found sophistication.
    I agree with you I think a marriage of the two is a brilliant idea.
    Warm regards,
    Simone

  2. I think you're absolutely right. Thanks, Simone. As for the degree, classes, etc., I would say they have their purpose, but the one that I really needed, and that I would recommend for any writer, is the critique group. Critique groups are free because they're mutually beneficial to all writers involved, but they're priceless for refining a work of writing.

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