Thursday, January 27, 2011

Young Writers are.....

I've had a question plagueing my mind for a while now.  
What exactly is a "young" writer?  

There's always been the heated debate on the blogisphere about writers/aspiring authors who are young, the main argument being that young people don't have enough experience to write thought provoking work because they lack depth and/or the ability to look back on decisions they've made. (I say that's a load of raspberries, but that's just me. This is not a rant/preaching post)

If you know me, you know that I've been writing for almost 5 years and that I'm almost 22 years old. Yes, that means I've been writing since I was 17 (I mean writing books). Here's the thing, when do young readers get to stop being a "young" writer and stop getting the stigma that goes along with it? And is where is the line drawn between "young" and "notsoyoung?" When exactly do young writers make that transition from eating their "Thanksgiving dinner" at the card table with the kids instead of with the adults in the dining room?

Here's the main argument against "age discrimination" in writing:  just because you're 30, doesn't mean your mature, know what you want out of life, or even what your mistakes have been (let alone actually thought about the ramifications of them).

Here's what I propose: We stop playing the age game and all sit at the same table. There's always room for everyone regardless of age. Let's stop the numbers game all together. Yeah, I've been writing five years, but my "level" could be equal to that of someone with ten years or even two months of experience. Might as well toss that out. In the end we're just trying to find the differences instead of the similarities. Experienced people that person sitting next to you is your target audience and if she says the words "rad" and "groovy" are not used at all, then she's probably right. Young people, that person sitting next to you might know more about life and what's really important, so listen and see if what you know correlates. We have all been or will be in each others shoes so why not make them comfortable?

Want other's thoughts? Follow the links below:
Nathan Bransford-enter his first paragraph contest too!
Teens Writing for Teens blog

Comments? I'd love to hear them down below. Or have you heard/written about the same thing? Leave me a link and I'll add it to those above. 

On a sidenote: One of my critique partners at InkSlingers, Bethany Robison/B.Robison has decided to host a give away of Across the Universe. Go here to enter.


Susan R. Mills said...

I think that young and old writers both have something different to bring to the table. Older writers might have more life experience, but young writers have more raw emotion because they haven't been hardened by said life experiences. (That's not to say this holds true for everyone, but I'm talking in general terms.) Anyway, I have a post half written about this topic. Maybe I should finish it up and actually post it.

Carolyn V. said...

I think younger writers have such an advantage! I didn't start until I was a little older, but I didn't have the confidence until then. I wish I would have started sooner.

Jennie Englund said...

You are the "oldest" writer I "know!"

Rachel Searles said...

Yeah, I think that because you do feel wiser as you get older, you kind of discount the intelligence you had when you were younger, and assume that anyone at that age hasn't learned enough "life truths" to be able to write anything meaningful, which is hogwash. Or maybe it's jealousy when people who see writers like Veronica Roth come shooting out of the gate with such huge potential at such a young age :)

Demitria said...

I don't think it really matters how old you are. When you send in a query to an agent or a short story to a magazine, they don't know how old or young you are. Your writing has to speak for itself. Some of the agents I spoke with were surprised I was in my twenties, but it has no bearing on my submission. My agent won't say to publishers, "This novel is good...for a twenty-somthing year old."

Maybe some people think that "young" people can't write, but there are plenty of old people who can't write either. :)

Bethany Robison said...

I think it's less a matter of age and more a matter of "reps" - if that makes sense.

It does seem like there are more younger writers getting published. For example, I think Alexandra Adornetto was 18 when "Halo" was published, and it was her second novel - "Halo" reads as young to me, and I didn't really get it - but it's pretty popular, so I don't judge.

I think that, rather than age, the question is of the maturity of the writing (or at least the story), and that comes with experience in the craft more than just life itself.

Jewels said...

I personally don't think age matters that much. In my opinion if you can write a good story that leaves me thinking "Wow where has this story been all my life?" then does it really matter if you are fifty years old of five years old (which I guess would be a miracle since when I was five I didn't even know my ABCs.)But I do believe this is a great discussion topic. Love your blog :D

Meredith said...

I totally agree. I don't think it's your age or how long you've been writing that matter as much (though they both influence your writing) but the level you've gotten to.