The Real Difference Between Us….

March 16, 2009 at 3:25 PM | Posted in Life, Op-Ed | 4 Comments
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I remember watching an interview with a teen writer. Several – in fact all of them – included one familiar question.

What is it like being a teen author?

Now, I am assuming here (not always a good thing) that these interviewers want to know what it is like being a successful teen versus being a successful adult. Instead of, say, being a teen writer in general. Just, “what is it like existing?” doesn’t feel like what they are asking. With that clarified, I would like to answer this question in two ways. One way is how I imagine these interviewers obviously want it answered. The other, in a more personal way that a lot of us here may identify with.

Being a teen gives us, basically, an advantage in the young adult market. We just know things. Adult writers will sometimes look at, say, their own kids, or the kids they teach or mentor or just come in contact with and say “They aren’t old enough to understand this,” or “I don’t want to introduce them to this,” or “they won’t be able to handle this.” Even worse, they will do a direct opposite. They will say “They may be kids but in this modern time they know everything” and then put in way too much sex, drug use, or language. Far more than necessary and far more than anyone, teen or adult, is comfortable with. As teens, we know what teen readers not only can handle, but what they want to handle and what they want in fiction for a good read. “What is it like being a teen writer?” It is like having an advantage over the adults. It is knowledge and experiences remembered. It is not looking at what other authors are putting into their books as a guideline for content but just knowing without a thought how far really is too far, what is interesting or catchy or in an opposite case what is too boring.

Secondly, I think the major difference for me is that we have more time. If you get into writing when you are ten, instead of forty, you have roughly thirty extra years on an adult to spend time doing what you love. You grow in talent, not faster, just earlier, and can spend up to sixty, seventy, eighty… ninety… years doing what you love instead of thirty, forty, fifty… I love that I have so many years ahead of me to write. I imagine when you all think of it you agree!

I would love to know what everyone else feels on this point. What do you feel when you hear the question “What is it like being a teen writer?”

~ Race



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  1. I agree with a lot of this, Race. But again, there’s always exceptions – to both rules. There are adults who relate to teens better than a particular teen can relate to teens, and I know a lot of those adults. There are also teens out there who can relate to adults as well as other adults. So even though I think some of us have an advantage in the market – but only those of us who want it. Those of us who watch, who pay attention, who learn from our peers and our society and USE it. And honestly, anyone can have that. Our major advantage is that we’re going through it NOW. We feel all those hormones and emotions and fears and insecurities NOW, so we can pour it all out now instead of trying to remember or observing it in someone else.

    Anyway, I think I just hijacked your post, lol, but I wanted to put in my two cents.

    Nice entry! :)

  2. Great post, Race.
    When I her the question, “What’s it like being a teen writer?”, I immediately think either “It’s hard”, or “It’s great”, depending on how that day is going. But in terms of the difference between teen writers and adult writers? Well, we often have a lot more support. While people may not take us seriously, most people are happy to hear that we’re writing, and they don’t try to take it away from us. Whereas an adult writer, if they’re not on the Top 25 Books EVER WRITTEN list, can be looked down on and accused of being a failure, or of wasting their life, or something else equally untrue.
    The other main difference I see ties in with that first one. Our imaginations in general are not squashed down like adults’ are. The lucky among us are encouraged to be creative, to be a bit unusual, to discover who we really are. It seems to me that a lot of adults can’t do this without risking nasty labels and criticism.

  3. I agree with Red – there are tons of adults out there who have a great connection with their teen selves and who really ‘get it.’ It makes me hope I can only be that cool when I’m older. :) But for now, I absolutely love being a Young Adult and writing for people my own age. What I write, it’s almost like a diary – when my MC goes through a ridiculous mood swing, it’s the mood swing I experienced just last month. When her friend blurts out some ridiculous vulgarity, I laugh because my own friend said something similar at lunch last week. And like you said, it’s great having all these years stretched out in front of you, time you can’t even imagine the scope of – you know the possibilities for improvement are absolutely endless (especially judging by how ‘unrefined’ our writing skills are supposed to be at this age). Basically, I think it’s a superb hobby (compared to watching TV, at least, which I always end up doing anyway), plus my writing goals help me not get depressed all the time (lmao) and keep my eyes on the prize (a future as a published novelist! whoooo!!).

  4. Totally don’t mind post hijacking! :D It’s an opinion post.
    You guys have a lot of great points! And you will be awesome when you are older Emilia. :D

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