Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Older and Wiser

It has been said that we all have an inner child of a certain age that retains a strong voice inside us throughout our lives. The same people who say that tell us children's writers do best if they write for that age group. Some people have a couple different voices. I feel like that is the case for me. I have a five year old inside who loves rhyming picture books. I remember that when my mom read to me, I loved all kinds of stories, especially ones with beautiful pictures. But I especially loved it when she read poetry; be it Mother Goose or Robert Frost. So I think that is why I drift toward that genre, and why it comes fairly easily to me. Also, there is a connection to musical rhythm in poetry, and I am drawn to that as well.
I also have a young teenager in my head. Of course, I was such a late bloomer that my thirteen year old was more like today's ten year old. When I work on the young adult novel, Raina Rising, that Sally and I are writing together, I feel those feelings again. Strongly, like I did the first time. I remember that invisible audience; feeling like someone would surely see me do or say any awkward thing if I dared to forget to keep my mask in place and reveal myself for the nerd I was.
I didn't hate being a nerd. And I wasn't the super brainy kind. I was just the kind that doesn't fit into the mold of public school. Probably if we asked a hundred teens if they felt "different", eighty seven would say yes. It's a stage in our development as people when we don't see ourselves, or anyone else, clearly. Just when we are questioning everything, and our place in the universe most of all, we can't really discern the truth about ourselves. Which is a pity. Those years of extreme growth would be so much richer if we could quit worrying about ourselves long enough to appreciate our youth.
Since I did feel different and out place as a teenager, myy protagonist in the young adult (YA) book gets to explore that aspect of my youth. And the fabulous thing about writing fiction is that my protagonist is many things I only wished I could be. One thing I am learning from her is that being talented is no protection from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (no, the book doesn't take place in Denmark). Those who rise to the top of social strata still wrestle. At least, Raina does. And she makes me think that most everyone must.
Am I older and wiser than Raina, the fourteen year old Soviet ballerina? I'm certainly older. But she may help in the wisdom category. She is teaching me a thing or two. Go Raina!

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