YA writers who post questions like, "Is this believable?" in relation to how teenage characters are acting, talking, interacting, or, "Can my characters fall in love in a week?"
The questions themselves aren't really the interesting part, it's the answers that make me wonder. If you show teenagers being irresponsible and stupid, whether it's drugs, sex, love or general behavior, a lot of people will chime in that you really shouldn't do that or that's not how teenagers really act.
But the thing is, being a *coff* over 37 *coff* writer of YA, I am pretty removed from my high school days. I have conveniently forgotten my stupider moments and find my characters make more mature decisions based on what I know now, not on how I was them.
And love. Pffft. People will say, "Don't have love at first sight in your book, its so cliche." But you know what? I remember my first real love and OMG it was intense and dramatic and heart breaking. I ate, slept and dreampt about this guy. I drew his name in hearts in my notebook and told all my friends he was "the one." I would stare at him in study hall all dreamy eyed then turn red if he looked my way. And he ended up breaking my heart and it was the most devastating moment of my life that far.
I remember crushing on guys from afar based on their looks alone. Then losing interest and the next week, moving on to someone new. Some friends changed boyfriends like people change their underwear. They slept with a guy for love, for practice, or just because they wanted to. They gave in to peer pressure or they didn't. Some drank, some smoked pot, some did other things. Some worked hard to get into college and others slacked off because they didn't care.
The thing is, our teenage years are all about intense emotion and stupid choices. In other words, finding out who you really are. For me, I realized how much I had forgotten when I closed my eyes and put myself back in high school, walking the halls with my friends, and really thought about it. It brought back a lot of memories, good and bad, but it also made me realize how I tend to shelter my characters from the "real world."
So my question to you is: Do we tend to gloss over the bad parts as adults writing YA, maybe not even intentionally, but because we have the advantage of wisdom and maturity? Do you think it clouds your perception at all?
disclaimer: I know there were some teenagers who were responsible and mature as 14 year olds, but for the sake of this post, I am drawing on my own teenage-hood memories, and I was definitely not! (Let me just add how grateful I am that there is no cell phone, Facebook or internet evidence of it out there either!)