I write for teens, so it’s important that I stay in touch with my teenage self. Now that my son is a teenager, I catch myself observing him sometimes as though I’m a behavioral scientist. But I also rely on memories of what it was like for me back in the day.
I say “back in the day” as though I have fond memories of high school—when actually my teenage years were a series of embarrassing events punctuated by flashes of terror. All those insecurities and fears, all that pressure to fit in and be liked. So why do I want to relive those painful experiences through my writing?
Because I came out the other side, that’s why. Because for so long I had no control of my life but now I do. So, yeah, bad things happen to my characters, but I know they’ll learn something about themselves and come out stronger. Just as I did. Just as we all do. Reliving my awful teenage years isn’t about dredging up the past as much as it’s about celebrating what I have right now. This wonderful life. This life that is built on a wobbly foundation but is all the more durable because of it.
So do I regret my teenage years? Sometimes. But I embrace them too. And through my writing, I get to imagine myself better than I was. Tougher and stronger and smarter. In essence, I get to live vicariously through my writing, and since I’m in control of the words on the page, things always turn exactly how I want them. What could be better than that?