Friday, February 21, 2014

Pictured left: me in high school. Just to set the mood.

Last month, I stumbled upon a couple videos of a LeakyCon panel called I Was a Teenage Writer in which Laini Taylor, Maggie Stiefvater, Leigh Bardugo and Barry Lyga shared passages of hilarious writing from their teen years.

I enjoyed watching these so much, and I laughed so hard. So I decided to recreate this panel in a blog post, and gather teenage writing from all the WHYA girls to share with you.


Like most teens, I had a tendency toward the dramatic. My stories often involved death or depression — sometimes both. Back then my blog was full of "poetically vague" yearnings for love, or "hysterical" snippets from AIM chats between me and my friends. I also wrote a lot of Star Trek fanfic.

For kicks, here's a snippet of a story I wrote sometime in high school. I have NO recollection what this was about or where I wanted to go with it, but I hope you laugh at it as hard as I did.

She moved across the lawn without disturbing a single blade of grass. (Er, how exactly did she manage that?) Her dainty feet were encased in plain brown sandals, the kind you slide into, so there were no laces or buckles to fuss with. (I'm sure you were dying to know!) Her dress was a pale pink, frosty and layered, flowing in the breeze. (Sounds like a cake, yum.) Had anyone been around to see her, they certainly would have asked themselves, "What is such a young girl doing out at this time of night?" (And then: "Thank goodness her sandals aren't fussy.") As an afterthought they would add, "Sure is a pretty little thing though..." (Because apparently they are super creepy.)

But there was no one. (NO ONE.)


"Teen me" was dark, and mournfully Romantic (Heathcliff!) balanced only by my hyperactive personality when around a trusted group of friends. I wrote hundreds of despairing poems and, when that wouldn't do, I fancied myself a Frost and wrote about nature. One poem titled "gnats" combined both despair and nature. I've been looking for my old journals (leather bound, from the fine collection at Borders), but alas I have probably destroyed them. I purge my writing from time to time, you see. It's an affliction, and I have yet to be cured. I will recreate the part I remember...(obviously capital letters cramped my style)




As a teenager, I dabbled in poetry that was often sad and short stories that were full of angst, but I was mostly interested in writing novel-length fiction. I started writing my first book at 14, finished it at 16, then wisely put the manuscript in a drawer to simmer for several years. Back then--just as now--I loved writing about relationships and the nuances of family dynamics. I was a hopeless romantic, but I wrote loads of dark stuff too. Oh, and I kept boxes of journals. Basically, I spent my teen years daydreaming and staying up writing into the wee morning hours. Well, that last part hasn't really changed :p

Here's a snippet from a story I wrote sometime in junior high... omigosh, this made me laugh!

A shrill voice screeched through the eerie darkness like a cat's claws against redwood. (Because apparently redwood amplifies sounds better than oak or, say, maple.) I couldn't run, though I was compelled to. I had to stay, (I HAD TO, okay?!) and so I did, standing straight and tall, stiff as a board, while scary, nightmarish thoughts drifted through my head. A leaf crackled somewhere behind me in the dark forest and oh, how I wanted to turn around and yell and kick and scream until whoever or whatever it was went away. But I couldn't, I wouldn't. Suddenly, right behind me, heavy breaths came faster, faster, faster...raspy, heaving, painful breaths. I felt them on my neck, cold from the night air. I turned, ready foranything, but not ready for what I was about to see. Oh, it was a gruesome sight... (Oh, the DRAMA!)

Me (Stephanie)

When I was a teenager I wrote Jane Austen copycats and melodramatic high fantasy with forbidden interracial human-fairy romances where every single character died at the end. Also running away to live in the forest. That happened a lot. I would then ask my English teachers to grade my ridiculous stories for extra credit. Those poor men.

Here is a prologue from one of said forbidden fairy romances:

The night was a ghastly sight to behold. It was dreadfully dark and the rain poured in icy waves to match the black storm in Rebecca’s breaking heart. Her parents had agreed to give her hand in marriage to the dreadful Count of Arhovia, a stranger from a faraway land they’d never even heard of. He was far too old for her, and he had a monocle (the epitome of evil, of course). Her mother and father had never sank to such abhorrent depths of idiocy before. Rebecca suspected sorcery was involved. The count had no sense of beauty, so there could only be one reason for this mysterious man’s interest in her. He must know she was of fairy blood! (Undeniable proof!) There was only one thing to do. She would run away and live in the forest!

She was about to climb out the window of her tower (because this is the most efficient method of escape), when her maidservant came in bringing a little message tied with an elegant black ribbon. Sweet Rebecca, I would speak with you. Meet me in the garden at midnight. I shall be waiting. ~ Jacob Morris. (Oh, Jacob.) Rebecca clutched the note to her heart, hope fluttering faintly like a butterfly resisting death. (Not dramatic at all, right?)

When I cared a lot about a story, sometimes I would make little "artifacts" from them. So that message from Jacob? It exists. Yeah, I know. I'm weird.

Were you, are you, a teenage writer?


Kristan said...

Omigosh, Steph, this was the best post idea! I love how it came together so that we're all laughing with each other. Also, you were adorable. Starting with that pic was priceless. ;)

Naiche Parker said...

Haha, I absolutely love this! The snippets/commentary were great.

Naiche @ The Book Girl Reads

Catherine said...

Wow. Those clips. I laughed so hard! Your snippets were hilarious, too. I am currently a teen writer, and while I don't THINK my writing is too melodramatic, I wouldn't be surprised if I thought differently a few years down the road. However, I have re-read some of my writing from a couple years ago, and it's pretty bad. Symbolic dream sequences, anyone?

We Heart YA said...

You know, even if your writing IS a little melodramatic right now, it's totally cool. By being a teen writer -- especially a teen writer who already has work she can look BACK on -- you're already light years ahead of the game! Because you've already put in the hours toward your mastery. You've already started the long road of learning and growing.

Plus, all writing can be edited to be better. ;)

Crystal said...

I love this post!! I was a teenage writer too and my writing was very melodramatic. And there was a LOT of drama. I liked drama in my stories! (Not in my real life, though.) I should go back and read some of it again. :)

Teresa said...

These snippets were hilarious and so dramatic. Thanks for baring your souls to share them with your humble readers, hehe.

I was a teenage writer, too. In 10th grade, for one semester of English, all we did was learn vocabulary words each week and we had to incorporate at least 5 words into short stories. One of my most elaborate was 3 or 4 pages long (front and back, if I'm not mistaken). It was a dark & stormy night! Let's just say, my biggest writing influence at the time was Christopher Pike. Anyway, my teacher always praised my work so there must have been something in it, even if it turns out I wasn't very good or was too melodramatic, or she was just super nice. I will have to dig them out and re-read them for giggles. What I remember most about my longest story was that I was a big fan of the "wake up and realize it was all a dream" device. I thought I was so clever!

I also wrote a book when I was 16 but I'm pretty sure it isn't very cohesive and there's probably a lot wrong with it. My best friend in high school loved it, though, so I guess that's worth something, right? I haven't read it in years. I am afraid...

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
The Fault in Our Stars

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