Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Guess what I'm NOT forgetting to post about today?!

It's Tuesday (...right?), and I'm going to talk about YA. Or maybe teenagers.

I'm going to talk about myself as a teenager, and why some YA is lost on me.

There I am on the left {in blue}, at the tender age of 14. Here is what I remember thinking about back then:

~my friends.
~my beliefs.
~how to relate to people.
~does anyone like me?
~do I fit in?
~my values.
~helping others.

As I got older, the thoughts expanded to include:


Boys were low on the list. My heartbroken days wouldn't happen until college. But as a teen? It was about my friends. I had a ton of guy friends. They were my brothers. I cared about them. Sure, I had crushes, too, but they meant less in the grand scheme, even then. They existed for the sole purpose of being thought about, not talked to. And if a crush and a friend overlapped? I did what I thought was best. I tried to turn it off. I kept up the friendships. I devoted myself to what I valued most {God and theatre}.

I don't know why I was like this. I may have been prudish. Naive. I shrug off those accusations, though, because I was living the way I wanted to. I won't deny that I got emotional and overwhelmed and pined after the occasional boy who would never know my name. And I won't deny that I struggled majorly with social norms, and that I put way too much pressure on myself to be "good." Yet, somehow, I remember understanding my place in life a little better than I now realize is normal.

If normal is based on teenagers in books, that is. I often wonder what sixteen-year-old me would have done if any book premise had been real. What if I had been selected for The Hunger Games? The real me from 2001, and not some archetypal teenage figurehead. Sixteen-year-old Julie would have either screamed and panicked and tried to run away, or walked forward like a martyr, with absolutely no hope or expectation of surviving. Maybe a little of both. I was no Katniss.

What if seventeen-year-old Julie had found herself surrounded by, oh I don't know, werewolves or faeries or something? What would she have done? First, the reality would have taken a long time to sink in. There would have been mixed feelings of, "Is this entirely true? Am I completely losing it?" and, "I knew fantasy was real, I knew it I knew it I knew it." Also, "how can I work this into a college application? Because that would be awesome."

However!, if some hot werewolf boy had come forward and immediately pledged his undying love, replete with possessive undertones, I would have made this face:

or something equally offensive.

And perhaps that is why there is a chunk of YA that just does not connect with me. I was never that girl. I don't know how to relate to her. 

I'm tired of reading books about teenagers that propagate adult fantasies. You know? It's fine if you like that, and I'm not saying I don't enjoy the odd romp through such things, but what exactly are you trying to say?

A question: Are you writing about kids? Or adults in wish-fulfilling teenage bodies? Not saying one is better than the other, just saying we should stop fooling ourselves. You're going to make money either way. Maybe.

Wow. Snarkfest, out.

{{In other news, Article 5 winners to be announced tonight!}}


  1. I was planning a future post about my YA self so it was interesting to read yours.

    The fun part about reading and writing is that we get to imagine ourselves in a different world where we can assume traits that we don't always exhibit in the real world, and confront things that might freak us out if we encountered them in the real world. If my teen self met a flirty guy who confessed he was a werewolf, I might make that face too. =) But reading and maybe even writing about it might enable me to see the charm of the situation.

    That's a lovely picture of you, by the way. =)

  2. Wow... that's an interesting way to think of some writing - as wishes that adult writers are trying to fulfill through their writing. That could definitely be possible. Actually, I see that sometimes with romances. It seems like sometimes the author gets characters together just because of their own fantasies and not because it actually works.

    I'm 17 right now, and kind of like you when you were a teen. I care so much about my friends and not so much about boys. So it frustrates me that there is so few books that focus on friendships between teens. (Although I have found some!) In my opinion, romantic relationships shouldn't be predominant.

  3. I forget that a lot of YA I read is supposed to be written for, you know, young adults. So much so that occasionally when a book seems a bit 'young', I have to remind myself that I'm not the target audience.

    Love the picture.

  4. Hello! I agree with a lot of this, I was also not like the characters that star in a lot of YA. BUT when I look at my own writing I do tend to give my characters precisely those characteristics that I lacked, and make them everything I was not or wished I was.
    The key is, I guess, to make it plausible. (For example: I would totally hide from Voldemort, but I can, and do, believe Harry has no choice)

  5. I was like you. Okay, so I was bit more interested in boys, but I had no fantasies of falling in love, when my relationships ended I was like, Okay, peace out dude. In fact, my longest relationship in high school--6 months--my said wasn't really much of one, since we talked on the phone maybe twice a week and went out like once a week (he didn't go to my school). All my friends were "in love" with their boyfriends, but I had no delusions or aspirations! I got a lot more stupid when I got to college...
    Strangely, so far in my writing I'm drawn to romantic relationships. Not sure why... But I do think we don't want to write completely typical teenagers. I mean, even terrible Bella Swan wasn't typical (but maybe if she had been, she would've been more interesting). Hunger Games would've been pretty lame if I'd been the protagonist. Because I would've died the day.
    "The gong sounds. Oh, I'm dead."

  6. Woot! Exactly... it is the catharsis I was talking about before. You know? That adults are writing things out that they fantasized, ways they wished life had been, then or now.

    I'm looking forward to reading YOUR rendition of life as a YA :)

  7. Oh man. Ohmanohmanohman. How is it that you are always able to put my thoughts into words? HOW? Was it you I was talking to, when I was saying that the hot guys in YA always seemed to be described (physically) as closer to mid-twenties, when they're really supposed to be teenagers? Because when I was sixteen and seventeen, not a lot of guys my age were racked with muscles. Guys don't generally fill out until nineteen or twenty. So yeah, that reads as a more adult fantasy to me.

    I do like reading about characters who are different from me, like Katniss (brave people and the like), though. Yeah. Just so's ya know.

    My favorite part about that pic is that you actually appear to be on the phone? Which makes it funnier for inexplicable reasons.

    And I would totally be the one saying, "I knew fantasy was real, I knew it I knew it I knew it." Haha.

    I'll admit, though, I was super-duper boy crazy. Lucky for me, I was also super-duper awkward looking until about college (at which point I just became normal awkward), so all the boys I daydreamed about just passed me by. Otherwise, who knows what kind of mayhem I would have caused??

    P.S. I kind of hate you for being so beautiful at age 14. (Good thing you like Phineas and Ferb :B)

    Novel, OUT!!

  8. Hilarious picture!
    My friends were probably the biggest thing in my life when I was a teen, but I did spend a LOT of time thinking about whoever my current crush was, and a LOT of time reading! And I'm pretty sure that if I knew about all the YA fiction I know about now, I would have been desperate to devour it all. Vampires, faeries, Hunger Games - the lot!


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