Last weekend, I was listening to a podcast about querying agents. One of the questions the agent addressed was whether or not writers should include their age in their query. I thought it was an odd question as I don’t think age matters. She explained that only older (over seventy) or younger teen writers ever even ask questions about age because…the author’s age is irrelevant.
It’s the quality of writing that counts.
The next day after listening to the podcast, this blog post, “Why there is no such thing as a teen writer,” landed in my in-box. It references another blog post on the same topic titled, “Stop Giving Advice to Teen Writers.” Hmmmm.
As someone who works everyday with excellent teen writers both in person and online, I found this slew of references to them really interesting. I absolutely agree with both the authors of the posts that teens absolutely have enough life experience to write and to write well, but as for some of the other arguments, in all honesty, I’ve never heard them. Kudos to the posts’ authors for continuing to write if people are saying those things to them! If I’d heard those things as teen, I’m not sure I would have had the self-confidence to continue.
The truth is that there are days when I wish I could write as well as some of the teens I work with.
Their writing is amazing and filled with insight, honesty, humor, vivid descriptions, and creativity. The answer, then, to the question are teen writers any different than adult writers, is no. There’s no difference other than age.
So why are there sites and all kinds of information for teen writers if the reality is that a writer is a writer regardless of age? To me, it’s about support and community. I’ve spent hundreds of hours work-shopping and conferencing with teens on pieces of writing, individually, in small groups and large groups. They beg one another to bring in stories, chapters, poems, and personal narratives to share.
Why is that? It’s because teens like teens. They want to read and help out other teens, not adults.
Writing is a solitary pursuit, but I’ve found that teens who are passionate about writing love to work together to grow and develop as writers.
My answer to this issue about age and writing is that, in a nutshell, teens like to work with teens (hence the teen blogs and sites like this one), but teens can write as well as if not better than some published author’s I’ve read.
What do you think?