It’s Easier to Write Young Adult Fiction at 23 than It Was at 15


I started writing longer fiction probably in middle school. I wrote a lot of little pieces of stories here and there before then, and a lot of poetry and song lyrics even earlier than that. Writing has always been an important part of my life. I’m not the best with making words come out of my mouth the right way, but give me a piece of paper and I’ll write something worth a read. I hope.

When I was younger, I was like every other tween and teenager: I wanted nothing to do with being a tween or teenager. I wanted my independence. I wanted to live the kind of life I thought adults lived, where things were still complicated but I could make my own decisions and plot the course for my own life instead of someone else always being there to do it for me.

Obviously, actual adulthood is never like you thought it was when you were 13. But I was so content with my stories then: adult characters, living adult lives—which of course I thought meant living out your dreams and always getting the happily ever after no matter the core conflict.

I settled into high school eventually, though, and finally decided to try writing about characters my own age. But … that wasn’t any easier than drafting characters older than me. I still had no idea what I was doing.

I think it’s easier, now that I’ve survived adolescence. No, being 15 isn’t that bad in a general sense, I guess. But up till that point in my life, it was the worst I’d ever felt. So of course I turned to writing to cope, because writing takes you out of the present and into a different world, where feeling is different, because you’re not telling your story anymore. You’re telling someone else’s story.

I won’t lie and say I have it all figured out. I’m between jobs, I can’t find freelance work, I’m trying to write a book and get an advanced degree and run a magazine, I’m single, I don’t even know which direction I want to take my career half the time.

But do you know what I’m not? I’m not a broke high school student biting my nails over whether or not it’s okay to go to prom with a friend instead of a date (it is). I’m not dragging my feet because I have to retake my ACTs so my prospective college will pay me more money to attend. I’m not crying over that same stupid guy who doesn’t remember my favorite color. All that drama you deal with as a teenager, it’s all you know. It’s normal to feel lost and dependent and invisible. But.

Writing is about solving problems. How can you write about a character who has all these problems, and come up with a solution, when you’re going through the same things and have yet to find a solution?

Now I can take all those lessons I learned way back when, all those solutions I eventually found, and make stories out of them. That’s why YA is my favorite genre, and where I think I’ll stay. Because I remember what it was like. My characters have no idea how to put the ripped corners of pages back together. But I do.

In all honestly, I’ll take living with my parents after having survived four years of college without them, having no money to pay my way through graduate school, with no friends left in my hometown to confide in, over being a teenager with absolutely no clue how to navigate the real world, do a load of laundry or flirt with a crush subtly enough that no one else will notice.

This life, I can handle. It’s good to have made it here.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of dotmatchbox [Flickr].

A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter. 

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