10 Jun

YA Cafe: Why Do You Write YA?

Posted in Blogfest, Teen Lit, Writing, YA Cafe

Welcome Back to YA Cafe, where book lovers can gather and chat about teen literature. I’m your barista, along with Ghenet from All About Them Words.

Each Friday we pick from a menu of topics and share our thoughts on our respective blogs. We’ve also got plans brewing for interviews, events and even some exciting giveaways, so stay tuned! Join the discussion by responding in the comments, on your own blogs or on twitter using the hash tag #yacafe.

Today’s Special: “Why Do You Write YA?” Blogfest

I have to admit, I’ve been struggling with this post.  At first I thought it would be easy, because the answer seems so obvious.  I write YA because it’s AWESOME! (duh, right?)  But that didn’t exactly seem like it could fill an entire post.

I dug deeper.  In light of all the #YASaves stuff that happened this weekend, I thought that maybe my love for YA came from having discovered that special YA book as a teen.  Maybe I write YA now because growing up that’s what I loved to read most.

Truth is, though, I didn’t start reading YA until I was an adult.  When I was a teen, I went to one of those scary-competitive schools and had so much reading to do for class that there was little time left to read for fun.  Even during the summer, when most kids get to choose what they read, we had two set list of books we could choose from: The Great Books, and The Very Good Books.  (N.B. Great Books comprised the classics written by dead white men and Very Good Books consisted of top-notch contemporary literary fiction.  Not much room for YA on that list.) So while YA is what I love to read most now, it was not what I read as a teen.

Then I thought, maybe I write YA so that I can rewrite my own teen years so that they would turn out better.  But again, the dirty truth: my teen years weren’t really all that bad and certainly they didn’t merit rewriting.  When I write YA, I make my characters go through things a million times worse than what I ever went through.  In fact, my teenage life was pretty ordinary.  I spent most of my time doing schoolwork or with a violin tucked under my chin.  My best friends were my siblings and the most illicit thing I ever did was take my little sister shopping for a fake ID was so she could get into a teen-only nightclub in Brazil.  Pretty innocuous stuff.  If I needed to rewrite my teen years at all it would be to make them more exciting and interesting, not less.

The truth is, I write YA because when I was a teen, things mattered. We got worked up about the smallest things: like how we hosted a sit-in in the school lobby in seventh grade to protest the fact that the middle school students couldn’t vote for student government.  Or how when that one particular boy noticed (or didn’t notice) me, it would either make or break my day.  Big stuff mattered but small stuff mattered too.

This is why I write YA.  Because whether you’re writing about serious problems like homelessness or eating disorders, or just the typical teen stuff like boy-meets-girl, it matters to the readers.  And if it matters to my readers then it most definitely matters to me.


There’s still time to sign-up  using the linky below and then just write your post and, tell us why you write YA on  your own blog.  And don’t forget to hop around to different blogs and see what other  folks are saying!


Comments on this post

  1. Ghenet Myrthil says:

    I love that everything matters to teens – the big things and the small ones. It makes YA books so much more interesting to read and write! 🙂

    1. Shallee says:

      I love this, and it’s a lot of why I write YA too. Life was so much more dramatic as a teenager, but somehow it was so REAL, too. Like you said, everything mattered– and that makes it a wonderful thing to write about. Thanks for sharing, and for hosting the blogfest!

      1. Margo Berendsen says:

        I like how you put it – the big stuff and the small stuff matters. I love that life hasn’t been jaded yet. And I forgot how in high school the “forced reading” took over. I got all my good reading in before high school, thank goodness! I like to hope they are getting away from that these days, my 16 year old stepdaughter sure reads tons of YA, I love it!

        1. Shannon Lawrence says:

          Very good point about everything mattering. I also didn’t discover YA fiction until I was an adult (and a mother of two).

          1. Dawn Embers says:

            That makes total sense. So many things matter and yet there is often a level of hope that exists. There is a newer level of sight to the world and so much that writers can do within the scope of young adult. This is a great blogfest and I’m enjoying all the answers people have.

            1. Jane George says:

              Thanks for hosting Why Do You Write YA blogfest. What a wonderful idea!

              1. Red Angel says:

                I am a little late in putting my entry up, but am currently working on it! Sorry for the delay. I can’t wait to go around and read everyone else’s entries. 🙂 Thanks for hosting such an awesome blogfest.

                1. Kate Larkindale says:

                  That’s exactly it! Everything matters when you’re a teen. Getting a zit on prom night can be as much a catastrophe as losing a friend in a car wreck. Not in the long term, of course, but in the moment. That’s what I love about YA.

                  1. gabi says:

                    Thanks for all your great comments and for joining in this blogfest! You all are awesome!

                    1. K.V. Briar says:

                      Wonderful answer Gabi!! It sounds like we had remarkably similar childhoods (except instead of a violin under my chin I had pointe shoes strapped to my feet). I also write/read YA in part because my teen years were tame… too tame, and much more boring than most teens. And I completely agree about teens caring about everything, so much more so than adults.

                      Awesome post 🙂

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