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On Being a Role Model

For some reason, my school thinks I’m a good role model. To the point that they’ve actually hired me to be a role model. I’m signed up as a coach for a young women’s conference, which means that they want me to, you know, tell girls what to do with their lives.

It’s kind of horrifying when you think about it. How on earth can I be a role model? I’m twenty-one. I giggle at “your mom” jokes. I like candy more than vegetables. Sometimes I read with a flashlight or candles just because I think it’s cool. How can I be a role model for girls only a few years younger than me?

I feel like this is a conundrum for YA authors as well. Librarians and parents tell us that our books touch the lives of our readers, that we have a responsibility to write novels that build up teenagers instead of tearing them down. We are role models, too.

And I agree with this – but at the same time, I don’t. Because we are role models; but I don’t think it’s the content of our books that gives us that responsibility. It’s the fact that we write books at all. It’s the fact that we are proponents of literature in a world that so often places more emphasis on superficial pursuits.

As a writer – someone who is dedicating your life to a hobby that involves hard work and ambition and intelligence – you are a good role model for your teen readers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working on the next Hunger Games or a quiet, sensitive issue novel; your book matters. Your writing matters. And your readers will notice.
Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

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7 comments:

  1. You just proved yourself as a role model with that post.

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  2. Very nice. I love this! I don't mind the responsibility, but yes, it is daunting sometimes. ;o)

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  3. amen sista
    People have told me I have the opportunity to instill virtue and morals into my readers, but most teens don't want to be preached to. They want an escape and, frankly, so do I. My main character;s best trait is usually determination. That's what makes them important. If the readers happen to pick up any subtle positive examples in my book, I'll deny any personal intentions on my part.

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  4. I think anything that exposes your inner workings to the public puts some amount of responsibility on you - but it's important to still be YOU. Otherwise it wouldn't be true.

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  5. When I was young I never gave much thought to authors, so I don't think I could have pictured them as role models in any way. On the other hand, the content of many books helped me live and be strong and keep hope.

    I don't want to be "preached to", but I must say all my favourite books (especially my childhood's favourites) have a strong moral message. I like books that are able to give the reader a peek of the meaning of life, of happiness, and the means to attain it. I don't read to escape reality, I read to understand how to make reality better.

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  6. "It’s the fact that we are proponents of literature in a world that so often places more emphasis on superficial pursuits."

    You are so brilliant.

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  7. It certainly sounds daunting. But I think your ability to be a role model is accentuated by this post :)

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Item Reviewed: On Being a Role Model Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Briana Otts