25 May 2010

YA? Why?

Status: Meh (long day at work but had an amazing dinner - life evens itself out)

On tv: World's Dumbest Criminals (seriously, even I had no idea that there was this much stupid running around)

We spent last weekend attending my step-daughter's high school graduation. A six hour road trip just to get there, tons of gifts, lots of hugs and, of course, plenty of tears later I'm proud to say that the hubs and I are now the parents of a high school graduate.

As we watched our precious little girl cruising down the aisle while a rock version of Pomp and Circumstance blasted from the PA system (seriously? how kick ass is that?), I noticed that she was crying. Not just regular crying but full on snotty nosed, wracking sobs crying. Really? Crying?

<----  Oh, yes, there was sobbing.

I watched her collect her diploma and I couldn't help but think back to my own high school graduation. There had been no tears from me on that night. I'd walked through my entire four years of high school with a cosmic kick me sign taped to the back of my hand me down K-Mart clothing and, on graduation day, I was so incredibly happy to be done that I couldn't wait to get my diploma in my hand and leave my high school experience behind me forever.

Which leaves me wondering why I'm drawn to writing YA novels...it's not like I'm trying to relive my high school glory days because, let me assure you, I had none. I had humiliating days, awkward days, lonely days, ugly days, and hurt filled days but definitely no glory days. After that kind of experience, you'd think the last place I'd want to revisit, even in fiction, would be high school. Yet, that's where I often find myself when I sit down to write.

I open a word document to find myself once again navigating the uncomfortable territory of high school hallways, lunchroom table seating politics and the horrors of the girls locker room during gym class. *shudder* Why? Really, why would I want to do that? Maybe it's like being a ghost stuck in an endless loop reliving your own murder over and over again until your murder is avenged. Only in my case it's more like being an awkward teenager reliving the moment when I got stung by a bee - on my ass- in the middle of gym class or the day that I slipped and fell, butt naked, coming out of the shower in the girl's locker room? I mean, it's practically the same thing, right? Hell, I think I would have preferred dropping dead over laying there on the cold tile floor of the locker room while all the cool, pretty girls laughed at me (okay, I totally would have probably laughed at me too, but still...).

As I sat through that hot, neverending ceremony (was the 20 minute slide show really necessary?), I realized that I write YA because teenagers can be mature and funny, smart and naive, hopeful and angsty all at the same time. They have the future wide open ahead of them and think that they've lived it all and have all the answers. Basically, they can be anything and everything - often all in the same day (if they're teenage girls, they can run the full gamut in less than 10 minutes). They're fun and interesting if you don't have to live with them.

Here's our graduate! It's all official, the sobs are gone, the smiles have appeared and may her future be just as bright and filled with joy as she is!

Also? If a character who vaguely resembles one of the cool, pretty clique of girls who tormented me during high school just happens to fall, butt naked, coming out of the girls shower in one of my novels? It's totally a coincidence. I swear.



  1. Love it, and congratulations! I know what you mean about writing YA novels, since the intended audience is an age range that has their whole life ahead of them. They're not stuck in jobs like we are, or in cruise control with their lives going at a very predictable pace. For all the young adults know, they can be the heroes that we write about...

  2. Thanks! And you're exactly right about YA novels - that's what I was trying to say but you managed to sum it up perfectly!

  3. Dude, you said it so perfectly!! This is me here in this post, my life. I detested high school. It was a godawful experience. So Facebook? Yeah, it's strange for me encountering former classmates who still talk like high school was the best experience of their lives. I'm always left thinking, "Seriously? Did we actually go to the same high school?" I was so ready to get out, I went to college a year early--which, by the way, put me in college at 16 because I was already a year ahead. When I left, no tears, baby. Not one. So why YA? Same reasons as you. Exactly the same.

  4. And btw, hearty congratulations to your stepdaughter!! She looks so happy. You guys must be so proud.


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