I’m In A YA State Of Mind

Earlier this week I turned 50—half a century. Sounds bad when I put it that way. Doesn’t it? (It’s okay if you have some “over-the-hill” jokes to insert here. I can take it. Give it your best shot!)

I’ve never been one to get hung up on my age. Age has always seemed a bit irrelevant to me. We are who we are regardless of age. There are some things that age cannot change or erase.

In a conversation with a friend we both commented over the fact that we found it difficult to wrap our heads around this whole aging thing and how difficult it was to believe the age we are. (One of those, where-have- the-years-gone? moments. I told him I thought that we all had a set idea of what age we are in our minds. He quickly agreed. When I asked how “old” he was, his answer was eighteen. I laughed and said, I thought I was probably somewhere between twelve and thirteen.

I think I chose this age because, when writing, I find it a very comfortable age to identify with. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just in a YA state of mind. Maybe that age was pivotal in my development. Did something earth-shattering happen a way back then? Darned if I know.

I usually prefer to write a story from a child’s perspective. It wasn’t always that way. I’ve written many short stories from an adult perspective, but as time went by I began to notice a pattern evolving—many of my characters were children often around twelve or thirteen

You might say, “But you write for kids of course your characters are young,” and that would be true. I think, however, since I didn’t start out writing solely for children I still haven’t figured out if I should be classified as a children’s author or simply author. (Perhaps this is a topic for another post somewhere down the road.)

So who knows, while the protagonist in my current WIP is twelve (yet again), I might decide to make a concerted effort to change this in the future. There’s only one problem. My stories all start with the character first. The story follows. It’s very rare that I would have a plot already decided upon and then create my characters. When writing Bitter, Sweet I had a bit of a plot in mind for many years, but until a character made herself known to me I wasn’t able to write that story. It’s certainly something to think about.

I’m not worried, though. I’ll eventually figure out who I am as a writer. A writer’s journey will take us down many unexpected paths but none of them will lead to the sign saying wrong way. The only thing we can do is relax and enjoy the scenery.

But for now, for the time being I’m definitely in a YA state of mind.

How about you, what age are you in your mind?

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36 Comments

  1. Hi Laura:

    Happy Birthday! You’re nine months older than I am! In my mind, I feel about 35 (although I’d like to think that I’ve learned a lot in the last 14 years since I was really 35!). Most people find it hard to believe I’m a grandmother when they first meet me…blessed with good genes, I guess!

    Wendy

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    • Thanks Wendy! I like to laugh and say that everyone I meet I figure is either the same age as me or older. I’m a poor judge of age.

      I think some people take me to be younger than I am because I’m short! Sounds silly and yet….

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  2. HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY, LAURA!

    Another great post.

    I think I’ve always felt younger than I am at any given age, probably because I was younger in maturity than my peers. (I was a preemie baby and then a very shy, sheltered child.) Even at times now that I am older – over 50 with adult children (already!) and a grandchild – I forget that I’m not in my 30’s.

    When I’m writing I seem to see from the eyes of a teen or pre-teen, but having not had a great deal of practice at character building yet I don’t know what age is my comfort zone in stories.

    I do believe we have an advantage at this age, if writing from the perspective of the child, since we can view life over several decades. (ouch! now that sounds bad.)
    Even though young people have different lives from what we did at that age people themselves don’t really change all that much.

    So, all the power to your YA state of mind! I look forward to being able to read your next book.

    Here’s the closest I can come to ribbing you: “There are numerous advantages in being fifty – just ask any eighty year old!”

    I wish you many blessings this special year of your life.

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    • I remember liking the thought of people thinking I was older than I was. This of course went away as I aged. Now it is the complete opposite. lol! When you’re nineteen you think it’s a compliment if someone thinks you’re in your twenties. Funny about that.

      Thanks for your confidence in me. Hoepfully, there will be another book one day. In the meantime I’ll keep working at it!

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  3. Every age and no age. I remember the way I felt as a child, teenager, young adult, and on and on. Age is only one factor that makes people differ from one another. Laura, you have asked a question that is making me think. Blessings to you…

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    • A part of me believes that we are all ageless. I used to believe that as people aged they became more “stuffy” but I now see that these same people were most likely “stuffy” in their youth and age had nothing to do with it.

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  4. I probably beat you all out when it comes to age — “the older generation” — but I don’t think age has a lot to do with the characters and readers we relate to. Most of my characters are in the 30-40 year range and I have married children older than that! I like that old saying, “Age is mostly mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

    Happy belated birthday, Laura!

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    • Thanks for the belated Birthday wishes, Carol.

      I used to say that once I reached a certain age I was going to tack 10 years onto my age so that, hopefully, people would think I really looked young for my age..lol!

      Maybe in you’re mind you’re still in your 30’s or 40’s, Carol!

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  5. Jan Coates

     /  October 3, 2010

    Hope you had a great time celebrating your 50th! I’m with you; I’m probably still 12 inside, or at least I find it easy to remember what it felt like being 12 or so. In fact, sometimes it seems I remember more about that part of my life than I do these past 20 years when I’ve been a parent. But I suppose seeing your own kids go through adolescence gives you a second chance to live through it(for better or worse…). I’m pretty sure we had an easier time growing up in the 60s and 70s than kids today, despite all the technology and “stuff” in general they have that we didn’t. Coffee sometime in October?

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    • Celebrating my birthday? Unfortunately I was working that day. Nope, no celebration I’m afraid. 😦

      I’ll email about that coffee later.

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  6. Hi there fellow Libran! I turn 60 next week and can honestly say I have never felt my age–except for some creaks sometimes, of course. Teaching has kept me around young people for the last 20 years and I think that has helped me feel young. I also have a 14-year-old, so I have no time to feel old, if I want to keep up with and enjoy him. An elderly woman I knew once said she was often suprised to see an old woman in the mirror when she spent the day feeling no more than 30. I’m with her. Have a wonderful & creative next decade.

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    • Well, happy early birthday to you, Heather! Certainly working with young people, coupled with having a teenager in the house would definitely make you feel younger. 🙂

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  7. smalltownbiglife

     /  October 3, 2010

    Happy Birthday! I honestly have never thought about the age I am when I write. That is a great question. In my poems, I think an old, but pretty woman (as in Yeats’ “When You are old and gray and full of sleep.” In short stories, it very much depends on the character through which the story flows, I think. In real life…I am “29” until my oldest turns that age in a few years! haha

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    • Well good luck with staying 29!! hehe.

      If you believe it in your mind, it’s bound to become your truth. Well maybe not, but it sounded good, didn’t it?

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  8. OMG. That explains it! My protagonist is 60!

    Thanks for sharing this, Laura. You’ve nailed it. I’m several years older than you, but I can still remember turning 50. Oprah kept saying how marvelous it was. I kept wondering what the heck she was talking about!

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  9. Happy Birthday! The Big Five Oh. I was 50 when I started writing (now 54) & also write YA. My characters are 15/16 year-olds. I coached baseball for many years – high school & college kids & have 2 sons (both awesome)- now 34 & 30. I don’t ‘feel’ 54, but don’t handle stress as well as I once did. Oddly enough, I beat stress by writing stories. Go figure. All the Best for Laura Best.

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    • Hi Dave. Thanks for the birthday wishes!
      There’s a lovely lady writer here in Nova Scotia who didn’t start writing until she was fifty as well. I’m not sure how many books she has to her credit but I know it’s lots! It’s great that writing helps you to handle stress. I think we all need a creative outlet. You were fortunate to find one for yourself. I’m sure we will see many more stories from you in the future. 🙂

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  10. Hi Laura! Happy Birthday! (belated, sorry!) I will be turning 28 this December and I have no qualms about talking about my age either. 🙂 That was a nice post. I haven’t started writing fiction yet, except for a few short stories now and then.. but mostly I write from real life inspiration and my characters mimic the ones I am trying to write about. 🙂
    Regds, Punam

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    • Thanks so much! When I was 28 my third child was a year old. I keep telling my second daughter this as she just this month turned 27.

      I didn’t start writing as an adult until I was your age. You are young and have much time to find yourself as a writer. Enjoy the getting there, not just arriving at your destination.

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  11. Happy belated birthday!!
    I’m going to be the big 3-0 in late December and I can hardly believe how fast time went! I still feel 21 and wear almost the same clothes as when I was 16. I am wiser now, but also hope to keep the youthful passion and optimism as I get older.:)

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    • You make a good point, Pauline, when you say you are wiser.If you have youthful passion and optimism now I am sure you will carry it all your life and just think you’ll have gained even more wisdom. 🙂

      A good friend of mine lived to be 100 and right up to the end she had that twinkle in her eyes. She was definitely young at heart. We can all have that too.

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  12. Yes, happy belated birthday! Is it just my imagination or are the majority of writers Librans? 🙂

    To answer your question, I’m many ages, but I think my most vivid age is about 26, though I don’t often write from that age perspective. Maybe I should.

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    • r u a Libra as well, Linda? my bday coming in just over a week and i’m having a hard time with it this time round. I think it’s partially because of new baby thing…but it’s def one of those where did the years go moments, Laura. I cant put a number on how old I feel, but still is kid is how it is. I ask my mom if I’ll ever feel grown up. She says she hopes not.
      Happy birthday, Laura! I hope you have a great year!

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  13. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Linda and Jennifer.

    Oh, we Librans have wild imaginations, don’t we, Linda?

    Jennifer, I don’t think growing up is a whole lot of fun. If I couldn’t laugh and be silly I think I would explode.

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  14. christicorbett

     /  October 4, 2010

    Happy Birthday!!!!

    Now to your question. I would say I feel an age of somewhere in my mid-twenties…old enough to have some experience and self-confidence, and yet still young enough to think I can tackle the world with only a little bit of work.

    And for the record I’m in my mid-thirties 🙂

    Christi Corbett
    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

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    • Thanks Christi! I haven’t heard from anyone yet who feels they are older in their minds than their actual age. Perhaps that is reserved for the very young I’m not sure.

      May we all stay forever young!

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  15. Belated Happy Birthday, Laura. 🙂

    Most of the time I feel like I’m still in my 30s, though there are days I feel much older than I really am. The characters I write about range from the 20s to 50.

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    • Thanks, Carol! Sorry for those days when you feel older than you are but feeling as though you are in your 30’s most of the time isn’t so bad. Unless of course you’re secretly in your 20’s. 🙂

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  16. I think my internal age is somewhere in the late teens, early twenties. And that age seems to be much easier for me to write. I had never thought of it that way. So glad to have read your blog. Thanks!

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    • Many people that I have asked often choose late teens for some reason. Interesting. Thanks for dropping in. It’s been awhile. 🙂

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  17. 25. That was a great year, partly because I made a bit of a deal about me being quarter of a century and used it to push myself into doing new things and taking writing more seriously.

    Interesting to know that you couldn’t do anything with the plot of Bitter, Sweet till the character came. I’m still waiting to ‘hear’ my characters. I believe that will come one day, hopefully before the next quarter century is out.

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    • It is exciting to “hear” characters. I’m sure this will happen for you one day. For me, it seems to happen right out of the blue.

      25 is a nice round number, as you say a quarter of a century. One day when I grow up perhaps I’ll be 25. lol!

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  18. Happy Birthday for last week, hope you had a great day!

    I still think I’m in my early twenties – as I got asked for ID the other day it seems other people do too – I Love that!

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    • Thanks for the belated birthday wishes.

      I remember what it’s like to be asked for ID.

      A few years ago when I asked a lady behind the checkout if she wanted to ID me. She didn’t seem to think it was much of a joke. I believe she thought I was being serious. I had a hard time keeping a straight face. Some people have no sense of humour!

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