So, you know how I've been trying to finish these revisions on SfEx? In the interest of that, I brought Penny to the Hirsch house, where Monica had agreed to spend the morning with her. I asked her offhandedly about how those in her age group (almost 16) referred to their peers - "kids?" "people?" "peeps?" What?
Well, we ended up talking for over an hour about everything from slang to Facebook interactions to bullying via text message. I had to cut the conversation short then because I wanted to get SOME revisions done, but she was so sweet and obliging and enthusiastic about the topic that I hated to go. So, I did what any social-media-obsessed YA writer would do - I asked her if she'd be up for answering some questions for my writing buddies on Twitter that night, if they had any.
And, WOW. Did they have questions.
We started tweeting about YA Writers Ask a Teen - #YAWritersAAT about nine hours before we wanted to start the chat, and not only did people get their questions ready, they retweeted. And retweeted and retweeted and WOW. We had a great conversation about voice and technology in teens' lives.
Jenny has a chat transcript posted on her blog, if you're interested in reading the whole thing. (Hint: If you're a YA writer, you probably should be interested.)
A lot has changed since many of us YA writers were teens, and we learned lots of useful stuff, like:
Just Another Dreamer
To which a lot of writers responded, "WHAT KIND OF CLUES!?!?!" And began furiously taking notes. So awesome.
But what I really want to talk about in this post is the response to #YAWritersAAT. About halfway through the chat, Valerie joked that she was just waiting for #YAWritersAAT to trend. And then she checked, just in case, and:
Yeah. There we are. Trending at #2.
You guys, I actually got kind of emotional. Because, hey. It's no secret how I feel about writing for teens. And teens in general. I LOVE teens. I LOVE writing for them. I think it's SO important that there is authentic, quality literature written with a teen audience in mind.
And you know what it tells me when a chat created for the purpose of helping YA writers write authentically for teens TRENDS in HALF AN HOUR?
It tells me that it's important to other writers, too. It tells me that other writers are more concerned about writing books with authentic, accurate portrayals of how teens speak, think and act as opposed to how writers WANT them to speak, think and act.
And that? That is absolutely freaking wonderful.
(Thank you to all the incredible teens who participated and were gracious enough to spend an hour on the weekend talking to us clueless old folks. And thank you especially to Valerie, Hayley, and Jenny, who were my impromptu co-organizers and promoters. You all were INCREDIBLE. See you next week.)