Posted in Craft, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

Listen to the Voices

sad-woman-1055083_640Last time I sent my 23-year-old daughter some memorabilia from her old bedroom, Rachel (not pictured here) told me she read her middle school diary, then threw it away! Ackkk! What a lost resource into the mind of a middle school girl.
So this time when Rachel was visiting from Boston, and I suggested she go through a box of “stuff” from her room, I said, “no throwing away diaries.”
As she read her 9th grade diary, she said, “It isn’t as embarrassing as the middle school diary. At least I didn’t focus on so many boys at once.” But still Rachel said she was embarrassed at what she’d written. She summarized the diary for me: Bret, Bret, Bret. Kyle, Kyle, Kyle. Bret, Kyle, Kyle. And this girl, 14 at the time, wasn’t even allowed to date!
One of the interesting things I discovered – she gave the diary to me – is that besides her sister (her designated driver), the rest of her family was rarely mentioned. Her life was centered on what was happening in the relationships between herself and her friends and the boys she liked. I think her dad and I rated billing along with her dog and her fish. No correct that: her fish died and it got way more words than we did.
Of course, now my daughter looks at what she wrote and wonders, “How did you ever stand me?” I refrained from telling her we’d lived through it once before. But it’s been making me think. I’m working on a novel with a 14-year-old girl as the main character. Now besides my own memories of that age–tainted by years–I have my daughter’s diary to help me out.
More options are available to all of us today, however, than diaries. Teen blogs. Here’s excerpts from several I found on the web. I’ve made no changes to the language or punctuation:
Got my last acceptance letter today. Now all I have left to do is to decide where to go, but this is way harder than I thought. I’m pretty much down to Berkeley and UCLA (maybe USC if my parent’s are willing to sacrifice 40 thousand a year, haha, right.) What to do, what to do?!
So looking at Craigs List, the highest paying jobs for unexperienced girls like me is to become a starlet for Playboy, or adult actress-starlet. I do like money, but not the route to get that much money. So, I looked under the more innocent extras requested…
Yesterday I had a feast with my familly. First we had scarolli or somthing soup with meatballs and chicken in it. Then we had awesome raviolies with meatballs. Then salad and to top it all off we had chocolate dirt cake. Also i miss my girlfriend Sydney terribly….i had a dream about her last night…we were on world tour with green day, her favorite band. And then i saw all my friends in the dream in my classroom and we had a talent show and you had to vote who you wanted to be in it and all my friends voted me and I played Give E’m Hell Kid by My Chemical Romance and then All of Green Day’s songs and then i woke up crying cause i miss my girlfriend.
Listen to those voices. And if you want more, go blog hunting on the web. Some sites are obviously written by adults – others give hints in the title that a teen wrote them. Take what you learn and put it to use making your own teen writing sound authentic.

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