Writing Through the Ages I: Young Adults

Or maybe it’s not too late to be a hip hop artist?

Something incredible has struck me about the profession of children’s book writing.  I am far too late (not to mention uncoordinated) to pursue my fleeting dream of becoming an Olympic hurdler.  I’ve missed my window to start a career as a hip hop artist, ballet dancer, or UN interpreter.  And there are many other careers in which, if I decided to jump into them now, I would be “off to a late start.”  But in the world of children’s authors, I’m a bit of a spring chicken.

Sitting in the audience at last weekend’s SCBWI-Carolinas conference, I was astonished by the variety of attendees and the range of what they had to offer.  The best part about children’s writers?  They actually offer it.  Despite the competitiveness of the market, children’s writers are some of the most open and helpful professionals I have ever met.

For the next few posts, I’ll be looking at some trademark features of writers from different age groups and what they have to offer.  I’ll start with my own category:  Young Adults – not in the age bracket defined by publishing houses, but adults in their 20’s who are still fresh to the ‘real’ world.

Children’s Book Writers in their 20’s:

Mary Shelley: “Nerdy Chic”

How to Recognize:

You might find these young writers in a hip cafe, swigging frappes in order to power through one scrutinizing sentence of their cutting edge YA Novel before allowing themselves a hard-earned checking of facebook.  Their style will range from nerdy chic to unkempt and odoriferous, but they are marked across the board by a glint in their eye, confident that they are ready to take on the world.

What They Have to Offer:

It’s common that these young adults understand those “apps” that everyone is talking about.  They may be more tech-savvy and adaptable to the changing  field of children’s books.  These writers are still relatively close to their own childhoods, and some are known to ‘act childish’ from time to time.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of this age bracket is its newness to the profession.  They have not yet been jaded by years of rejections, and their learning curve is high.  Young adult writers are eager, excited, and confident that they have what it takes to make it.

1 mug, 15 minutes of writing.

Where They Can Stand to Gain:

Enveloped in that confidence is impatience.  These new writers have much to learn about the craft of writing and the business of books.  Meanwhile, they are balancing pressures to hit up music festivals, attend organic food rallies, form relationships, and “get a real job.”

It is not uncommon for young writers to submit before their manuscripts are ready, or before they even learn how to make them ready and properly submit.  But rejections stemming from these submissions pave the way for patience and an openness to learn from more experienced writers.

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3 Comments

Filed under Thoughts and Insights

3 responses to “Writing Through the Ages I: Young Adults

  1. What a great little series you’ve started. How fun! However, I’m not so sure that it’s too late to begin a career as a UN interpreter. In the words of Water Boy, “You ‘kin’ do it!” Be a writer, that is. Or wherever your twisting life will trail you. (Mine’s been kind of a strange little path, but still enjoying the ride – from a writer in her 30’s.)

    • Thanks, Christie! I think it’s so interesting that children’s writing draws such different people from such different stages of life. Your stage (parenthood) is up next 🙂
      I’d thought that a UN Interpreter had to be fluent in something like 6 languages, but turns out it’s only 3. Still, it would take me a good chunk of time to become professionally trilingual!

  2. Pingback: Writing Through the Ages IV: Children | Laura Boffa: Write of Way

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