The Teenage Experience

First off, let me just say that I have had so much fun with Teen Writer Week this week, and I want to thank Kody, Steph, and Weronika for their contributions! You gals are amazing 🙂

Secondly, yesterday was Teen Lit Day and Scholastic, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and ReaderGirlz have some really great posts on it. Go read!

As Teen Writer Week comes to a close, I thought I’d share some of my own writing from my teen days. Since I was not nearly as creative or motivated as the lovely ladies mentioned above, these little snippets come directly from my old diaries. I promise no editing has been done. (It makes me cringe that I cannot correct my grammar!) So, enjoy the raw teen angst. To me, these quotes best represent my adventures in adolescence, and I think (hope) most teens and former teens can relate:

Age 13: “Today I got contacts! Finally no more glass. I hope I look a little more attractive than before. Maybe [major crush!] will start liking me. But, if he only likes me because of the way I look, then I don’t want him anyway. Well, OK, I still do.”
Age 14: “I’m sitting here watching Dawson’s Creek and everytime I watch it I get the urge to write in my diary. They’re fifteen on the show! That’s like me in like 9 months. I’ve never had a conversation like these people ever!”
Age 15: “I’ve been thinking about college lately, mostly about how I don’t know what I want to do w/ my life. I got my DAT results back, which is a test to see where you should pursue a career. They told me I should work w/ the fine arts or music, which is basically my dream job, but realistically I don’t see that happening. Oh well. I don’t really know what I’ll do.”
Age 16: “If 16 is supposed to be this great and wonderful age, and I don’t feel any different, then what the hell is 17 going to feel like?”
Age 17: “I hate high school. Every little thing that’s ‘a major crisis’ is just stupid shit no one cares about.”
Age 18: “I’m beginning the phase in my life where I’m just freaking out. The fact that I’m leaving and going out into the world alone is hitting me. I mean, I was aware of this before, but ever since I decided on Ithaca and they’re sending me more and more stuff, it’s like ‘ok, this is actually happening now.’ And I am completely terrified.”

Also, in the spirit of Teen Writer Week, I ask you all to leave a quote – whether from a diary you have handy or from a moment in time that’s stayed in your memory – in the comments that you think sums of your teen years!

Inspiration & Motivation

To my fellow writers… 

Yes, I say “fellow” because I am in the process of reclaiming my roots in creative writing. I’ve been so busy thinking my MFA was useless and not worth the debt, that I haven’t thought about actually using it. While my go-to style is personal essay, I’ve been trying my hand at (gulp!) fiction. It’s pretty terrifying. Right now my idea is heavily based on a friendship I had in high school, and, as expected, the sections that come more naturally to me are scenes involving those two characters. I find I’m less motivated to write the straight-fiction parts, which will account for 75% of the novel. 

The easy solution is to make this a memoir, but then I’d be stuck with having to make it truthful, and frankly, this story would be very boring if I start and end it where it did in real life. I want to take it further and explore areas in that time period without having to worry about things like facts. The only problem is – I just can’t make myself sit down and write it.

I’m curious about what happens after the inspiration. It’s hard enough finding a muse and putting an idea down on paper. But, once you finally map out where you want to go, what makes you get in your car and drive there? I apologize for the weak metaphor, but you see what I mean. Any advice out there for me or to the other writers out there?

One last word on MFAs – despite my gripes, I don’t regret getting one. I know being in the program made me a better writer and I definitely learned more in those two years than I did in the four years I studied creative writing before that. However, they are expensive!!! I do not suggest going for the MFA right after college unless you are 100% certain that the only career for you is “author.” Even then, they’re not super necessary, but you do meet some great professors (many of whom have connections) and form a decent writing circle that will be super necessary later in your writing life.