I don’t remember when this was, but a while back, I was reading a blog post in which the author of said post was going on and on about how they were writing their first story in the “adult” category (having previously only written young adult) and what a relief it was not to have to “hold back” anymore.
Hold back as in, “Yay, now I can cuss like a sailor!” <— I’m not joking. That is seriously what they meant.
Like really? Read much?
I can’t say I’ve read a TON of YA that has “bad” language in it, but I have. I am, in fact, reading one right freaking now. So, it’s not like it’s off-limits for the category. I drop quite a few words in the bad language department, myself (in my stories). And I’m not a potty mouth in person. I’m one stick of gum away from being a prude. About everything.
I read a YA story a few months ago that had a slightly crazed main character stalking this older guy that she had an inappropriate fling with after he dumped her for someone his own age. Someone might say this is inappropriate subject matter for a teenager to read, but I personally find it freaking refreshing. Granted, it didn’t go into a ton of graphic detail, but it was still VERY clear what was going on.
In support of it not being inappropriate, I roll out myself as exhibit A. Fact, I distinctly remember reading mostly adult books between the ages of 13 and 21, except for my favorite books in all categories that I read over and over again. And some of these books had some really eyebrow raising content. I read Anne Rice in high school, for example. If you’ve ever read Anne Rice, you might wonder why my mom let me read that. Honestly, she wasn’t paying a terrible amount of attention, but she did get a kick out of me carrying a dictionary around and asking her to define words for me whenever I left that dictionary at home. Adult books had a lot of big words and I learned a lot. Plus, at the time, I had burned myself out on YA books that I actually wanted to read, so there was a pretty long break from that section. It’s not as big as it now, not by a long shot.
Truth is, young adult books stretch a very wide spectrum of readers. I’m not writing for teenagers. I’m writing for everyone who likes to read the kind of crazy I love to write. This includes adult me AND thirteen year old me, who would have been thrilled to read the kind of books I write now. Lol!
Around this same time, I read a different but equally infuriating post about how clueless teenagers are about kissing, especially the girls. Like all first kisses are these super stressful chaotic things, and the only appropriate reaction is, “OMG!! MY FIRST KISS!!! I’M DYYYYYING! TEEHEE” This came from a writer of YA fiction AND a freelance editor of everything.
I’m not even joking!!
Honestly, it pissed me off. I wanted so bad to comment on that post and tell that person that they were completely out of line in their assumptions. But I held my tongue for fear of going off on a tangent and calling them an idiot. Every single freaking experience in life is different for different people. I remember my first kiss. You can feel sorry for me if you want, but there was no swooning. No butterflies. No giggling. I distinctly remember wanting to rip my own tongue out afterwards. It was gross.
And I could talk all day about the craziness I ran into on a daily basis when I was a teenager. Some teenagers are insane. I had friends that hijacked a driver’s ed car and wrecked it. They were also high, by the way. THE STORIES!! I could write an entire, apparently inappropriate, series of books about my friends in high school.
Were there little clueless ditzy girls? Yeah. Me. And though I tried my darnest to keep a bubble wrapped around myself, I was surrounded by hoodlums. So I don’t want to hear about what’s appropriate in a YA novel, especially something as asinine as kissing and swearing. It’s not that serious.
I really have no idea where either of those posts were coming from. It’s not unrealistic or inappropriate for the age group to have “edgier” themes or swearing in a YA book. I love sweet little chaste stuff sometimes, but if I read that all the time I would throw up in my mouth. Same goes for trying to write it. So naturally, I have a tendency to both read and write crazy stuff on the regular.
People are, of course, entitled to their opinion. If they want PG, that’s fine. But that one person was on their blog telling everyone else how to write a kissing scene in a YA book like she had all the right answers to writing in life. THERE ARE NO FREAKING EXPERTS. And with the first person, on the swearing, she should know better because she reads about 100x more books a year than I do.
That’s all. End Rant. I was just so flabbergasted and appalled.