Okay, not that it’s really a secret or anything (it’s been linked right there in my “about” box since forever), but I write this silly little neighborhood story about my Sims characters. And what sparks this discussion is that everybody LOVES Dallas and Lucy, a young couple in high school – it’s impossible not to love them, they’re adorable, lol! I identify best with Dallas, who is right on the cusp of eighteen, consumingly attached to this girl (as is she in return), but has to decide if he has enough faith in their relationship that he could go away to study abroad for two years while she finishes high school, knowing that at their age, it’s likely she may not be waiting for him when he gets back.
Apparently, I get teenagers. I’ve heard this too many times to even count. I don’t know how, since I never even considered myself one – and perhaps this has something to do with how my husband claims I never grew past the maturity level of a seventeen year-old? But when I write about young people, I’m told they’re convincing and true. So why then do I feel this VIOLENT opposition to admit that I’m writing YA fiction?
And please, no offense to YA writers, I’m really just trying to understand where I’m coming from on this. Why does it feel like a dirty word? It feels like settling, to be bluntly honest. It feels like I would be doing it because I’m not good enough to write mature grown-up fiction. Or maybe the fact of it is I’m only twenty-eight, and NOT mature enough to write grown-up fiction?
The thing is, I want to be read by adults, and while I believe that some older teenagers might really enjoy my stories, my favorite age to write aren’t actually teenagers at all. This is where I get confused. I honestly think I tend to poke fun at my teenage characters until they reach about the age of seventeen or eighteen, where then, I’d honestly consider them little adults. Literal, young adults.
These are usually college kids, or the older high school kids – the 18-24 year olds. They’re out on their own (or almost), taking care of themselves as best they can, making their own mistakes and dealing with their own consequences. What I LOVE about this age is that they’re really making their very first life-altering decisions (and life-altering mistakes), and they’re having to do it all on their own.
Is that YA? Yes, they are young adults, but adults still. And almost entirely not teenagers. I always thought YA fiction was meant to be read by teenagers (I’m thinking 13-16 year-olds). And to be quite blunt, you probably don’t want your thirteen year-old reading about the kinds of things real eighteen to twenty-somethings say and do and think. So is there a category of fiction for the quarter-life crowd? Can I invent one?
But then, I do feel better about being lumped in with youth writers when I find that wonderful (and very mature) books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital are classed as YA. And two of my very favorite books, A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Cider House Rules, both revolve around young people growing up. So maybe my books will be called YA? Maybe it doesn’t matter? Maybe I should just write the damn thing? 😉
Friday ‘Fess Up:
I’m still digging and trying to get my hands into this new version of my novel. Not another new version, but the same new version I’ve been brewing for a few months now. But this came to me yesterday, in Lexi’s voice as if she were speaking right to me (don’t you love it when your characters speak right to you?) – Lexi, by the way, is twenty years-old, married (!!!), and a biology major in college:
“I think it’s best you know that I’m the sensible one of this little trio. Danny and Hannah, as much as I love them, they’re quite honestly from the moon.”
I love Lexi! 🙂