I was just reading a blog post by a writer who was pondering the complications of writing from the narrative perspective of a 16 year old girl. Here are my thoughts about writing as a teen, when one is actually years or even decades past the teen years.
It’s been a few decades since my own high school graduation, but I am lucky. I write for teens, I am with teens all day long, and I never grew up (this means that I actually gave birth to children who are older than I am). I have a unique perspective on the life of the average teen, and access to them. I watch, listen, and absorb what I can in the hallways of the high schools where I teach . I hear about the latest vocabulary, music, games, movies, and books. At the same time, I am no longer a teen, despite not having grown up, so I’m not really in the club. Then again, I wasn’t in the club when I was actually a teen, either. That’s not such an uncommon scenario.
Many things haven’t changed much.
There are the kids who party. There are the jocks. There are the kids who escape their troubles (real or imagined) with substance abuse, with music, art, writing, mechanics or with academic excellence. There are the kids who are motivated and going far. There are the kids who don’t have a lot going for them, and don’t have big dreams. There are enthusiastic kids. There are depressed kids.
Teens are a snap shot of society, though in a time of striving for identity, they are inclined to extremes now, just like they were then.
If you’re writing as a teen in the present, the biggest change in modern teen life compared to life as a teen in the 60s, 70s or 80s is that the ubiquitous cell phone must be part of the action. Cell phones are umbili for social survival for teens today. They require constant connection like The Borg. It’s quite a fascinating thing to observe, especially when the paradox of feeling ‘different’ creates the fundamental paradox: connected and outside simultaneously. That’s the nature of being a teen today.
The most important things remain the same. They still want to change the world. Many still believe, rightly, that they can. That optimism is also an essential component of youth, and the one I like the best.
Here I am at Hallowe’en with some of the people who make me happy to get up and drive to work each day, my Acting class. Can you find me? 🙂
NaNoWriMo Day 11: 1100 words (Total 15,000)