Self-Discoveryon October 6th, 2011 at 12:03 am
I had an interesting discussion with a friend last week, and it got me to thinking about one of the reasons I like writing YA. More specifically why characters in that age group appeal to me so much.
The thing is, I’m old. Not like ready for assisted living old, but when you look at your upcoming birthday and can say, I’m more than twice the highest teen number now…well, by comparison, I’m old. Now, I am a firm believer that people grow and change, but as a general rule by a certain age, you have a pretty good idea of who you are. You may not have applied it in your life, but you more or less know. But I remember high school, and those years (along with college) were all about figuring it out.
Now, my journey of self-discovery was a fairly quiet one. I drank a little on very rare occasions, never tried drugs, smoked for a while in college, but of the “obvious” rebellion type things, I didn’t do those. I used to joke that it was the reason I rarely got in trouble. It wasn’t that I didn’t do anything “bad”, it was just that my rebellions were more subtle. I’m not saying that makes them better or anything, it’s just an example of how every teen does things differently.
But the point of the discussion was about how sometimes rebellion is just that and not self-discovery. That sometimes a kid just is who a kid is, and the hair dyeing or piercings or whatever are a cry for help. I can concede that point. Sometimes it’s true, and I would even say it’s often true when drugs, alcohol, gangs, etc. are involved (and by gangs I mean actual gangs as opposed to a different, and perhaps unsavory, group of friends). But a lot of things that some people list as rebellion, I see differently. Bleaching your hair and dyeing it in stripes? Not a rebellion. Maybe if you do it right before your mom’s second marriage and you’re supposed to stand up in the wedding, but generally speaking…it’s just hair. Piercings? Those suckers can come out the moment someone decides it’s truly not them, or they could stay in for life (or until their body rejects it, but that’s a different issue). There’s a reason most reputable tattoo shops have age restrictions (and parental consent for anyone under 18)–tattoos are permanent (yes, you can have them removed, but not easily like hair color or piercings). Hell, it took me fifteen years from deciding I wanted a tattoo to actually getting my first, not because I didn’t want it but because I wanted to be sure it was “me”.
In the manuscript I just finished re-drafting, there’s a character named Leta. She dyes strips of color in her hair. She doesn’t do it to piss her parents off, she does it because she likes it. Alternately, when Cass gets blood-drunk, it is both a rebellion (to a degree…peer pressure also plays a part) and a huge step in self-discovery. It’s a very bad thing for her, but it’s something that she has to do in order to truly understand her power as well as what role her vampiric half will play in her life.
I talk a lot (not necessarily here) about how important I think it is to not indoctrinate kids into a specific way of thinking. Great discoveries weren’t made by people who followed the rules or the crowd. They are made by the free-thinkers, by those who paved their own way. So when it comes to those easy-to-change-back things? A little rebellion is good for a person, and pushing them to get in line…not necessarily so much. Then again, in fiction, “not necessarily so much” can also lead to fun and dangerous places.
In other news, I’m seriously debating moving the blog over to blogspot. It’s simply a much easier system for me to use and (almost) all my blogs are in one place then. If that happens, the new address will be http://julieparticka.blogspot.com. (Yes, I’ve “made” the blog. No, it isn’t fully set up yet. No, I’m not sure I’m moving–I just wanted to reserve the URL.)