In which I discuss self-awareness in continuing to write young adult stories as a no-longer-that-young adult.
With 2019 coming to a close, I realized that I’ve actually written far more Theonite-related content for other people’s blogs than my own. This isn’t something I regret; I don’t believe I’ve ever mistaken myself for a blogger or led anyone else to do so.
However, I do want all of these posts to be easy to find, here on this site where people are most likely to be searching for them. So, what I’m going to do over the remainder of 2019 is post introductory samples of all my guest posts, one at a time. These samples should be just long enough to give you an idea of whether you’re interested in clicking through to the full post on the host’s blog.
The content is easy to find, the hosts still get the traffic, everybody wins!
On Writing Young and Old
There are pros and cons to working on a single series of books from age twelve to twenty-six. I could write a book right here just expounding on the cons that plagued the TheoniteSeries. We could discuss the genre confusion that results from trying to marry my childhood Harry Potter and superhero phases, to my middle school Lord of the Ringsphase, to my high school Shounen anime phase, to my college anthropology phase. We could lament the difficulty of managing the colorful cast of thousands that sprang from all those phases. We could talk about the grammar—dear gods, the grammar!—in those early drafts.
But, for all the grief, this long haul of storytelling has yielded a gift that I wouldn’t trade for anything: an unclouded window into my adolescent brain.
When I wrote the first draft of Theonite, I was a year younger than the thirteen-year-old protagonist, Joan. In that mess of hormones, I wrote the story of a girl with wondrous superpowers that she was forced to hide from a world that feared and misunderstood them. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was writing a metaphor for my own experience of being that age. Don’t so many thirteen-year-olds feel that way? Isolated from others, fundamentally misunderstood, boundlessly powerful but unstimulated and underestimated.
At twenty-six, I am now closer in age to Joan’s incompetent mother than I am to Joan herself, and I can feel myself forgetting what it was like to be thirteen. Worse, like Joan’s mother, I’ve encountered this urge to rework young people – real and fictional – to suit my adult standards and insecurities. As someone who works with kids, I obviously like the ones who follow the rules and value my advice, who are inquisitive without being annoying, witty without being rude, wise beyond their years without letting it go to their heads. Yet, in old passages of Joan, I have this humbling reminder that I was not one of these charming children. Few of us were…