Monday, August 19, 2013

Be the Reader

If you write for adults, it's not really that hard to put yourself in the place of the reader. They generally have the same frame of reference as you. But if you write for young people and you haven’t been a young person for a very long time (if you’re like me), you have more of a challenge putting yourself in the shoes of the reader. Make no mistake, your writing will suffer if you cannot find a way.
My daughter is starting sixth grade this year. Today, in fact.  She is bubbling over with excitement and angst.  New to her will be lockers and switching classes and dressing down for gym and having a half dozen different teachers, each with their own foibles. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this was a new adventure for my daughter, but I had forgotten exactly what it was like, what it felt like when it was happening to me. She’s happy one minute, a complete nervous wreck the next, and I’m along for the ride all over again.
I do remember my middle school experience being one of the hardest times of my life. I had to get glasses in eighth grade and I was devastated. Nobody else had glasses, at least that I could remember.  They weren’t cool glasses; they were 1980’s glasses. Uhg! Everyone said they made me look smart, which I was, but that’s like the last thing I wanted to be called at the time. I went through a string of boyfriends who all made me feel rather inadequate, except for Timmy Chin.  I wonder what ever became of him? And the drama I went through with my female friends. It’s a wonder how our parents ever tolerated us. I suspect they too had amnesia about what it was like and the things that went on in middle school.
As authors, we have a duty to return to that time in our own past and dig those feelings back up when we write.  What do you remember of middle school? Anything?


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