Thanks so much to the gals here for letting me in on this fantastic blog opportunity! It’s great to be in such good company.
It’s funny...I started “officially” writing YA in March of 2005, but I realized last weekend when I was cleaning out some of my old writing files (okay, trying to organize and make room for the Bowflex we bought!), I found the first completed manuscript I wrote in 2001. It’s 863 pages (yes, you’re reading that correctly) and it’s called FOOTPRINTS ON MY HEART about a woman reminiscing about her senior year of high school in 1985. My heroine was Rowan Webster (I still love Rowan) and even though she was a senior, she was totally in love with this adorable freshman guy, Sean Layton. However, she surprisingly ends up with his older brother, Joel.
The story was written before I knew any “rules” of writing, before I knew there were writing “genres,” before I understood GMC (goal, motivation, conflict for you non-writers) or POV (point-of-view) or any other three letter acronyms. It was written in first person past tense and was horrendously long. I was writing YA, though, and didn’t even know it. The voice, the tone, the situation, the messages. But I love the story and cherish the manuscript because it’s what got me writing. Sure, it took a year to get it done, but I did it – and I kept writing. Eleven full manuscripts and two partials later, I have a wonderful four-book series coming out in the Spring of 2008.
What fascinated me so much about FOOTPRINTS and Rowan’s struggles is the universality of it. Even back in 1985 (which is literally a lifetime ago for today’s YA readers), the issues of being a teen are the same:
1. Crushes on cute boys
2. Seeking freedom/needing a car
3. Fitting in/popularity
4. Concern over your looks/appearance/weight
5. Looking towards your future/college
7. School activities
8. Hanging with your close friends
9. Drinking/Not to Drink debate
10. Dealing with your parents
Rowan goes through all of these things in her journey, as do most of the heroines I read about in YA books today. It’s all part of growing up, though...of being a teen and that lovely right of passage that’s all about. It’s the memories we form early on in life that mold us in our adulthood and make us the person we are.
One of my favorite scenes in FOOTPRINTS is when Rowan’s on Spring Break in Florida with all of her friends. They’ve been drinking beer (as college seniors on break in Florida do) and she suddenly realizes she’s put all this effort and time and heartache into getting Sean to like her when right there in front of her is Joel, his brother – her age – who totally gets her. When he kisses her for the first time and everything becomes clear to her, it’s a warm fuzzy moment for me as a reader (forget that I even wrote it!) It was that “big scene” I had been writing towards and that scene that made all of my own memories roll into place. Too bad the book will never come out of that writing box again. LOL!!
What are some teen stories that have triggered warm memories for you? Or teen movies? Do you agree that teen problems are universal, no matter the decade? What has left footprints on your heart?
Until next Saturday...
Marley = )