Dear Friends Who Write for Teens,
Car-less high schoolers in my neighborhood must meet at a bus stop a stone’s throw from my house. I heard them gathering this morning as I lay in bed. A loud-mouth girl shouted to her friends down the street. Other kids laughed. And although I didn’t peek out my bedroom window, I imagine there was at least one stoic kid standing solo in a sweat-drenched cocoon, clutching a sack lunch.
I rolled over on my pillow and thought about those kids. My heart went out to all of them, to the loners for certain, but truly to each of them, even Ms. Loud-Mouth. I knew that once they boarded that bus, they were headed to an emotional meat grinder. Part of me wanted to open my window and yell, “Listen! There’s some important stuff you need to know!” and then I’d talk as fast as I could before the bus roared down our street. But that part of me didn’t move off the mattress. And so, this is where you come in, my dear friends who write for teens.
Will you, in your own unique, skillful way, remind these kids of how precious they are? They are no less loveable than when they were darling, chirping preschoolers. I know some of those kids may not be or feel loved right now, but they are no less love-worthy.
Will you, somehow, in a way only you can, let them know that what the cool kids think of them during high school will not matter AT ALL after graduation?
Will you, using your subtle magic, encourage them to talk to everyone–not just the kids they like, to get involved at school, to take wise risks and to keep the long view in mind (i.e., there’s life after high school) because the choices they make now matter?
Will you woo them into seeing the value of a trusted adult friend–a teacher, a coach, a grandparent–who can act as a mentor and support?
Will you, with sincerity and without condescension, offer them some kind of hope for the future and a touch of inspiration that will spark imaginings and dreams?
Will you, with your prosey powers, help your readers feel seen and heard and known?
Yes, yes, I appreciate the pressure I’m placing on you. But you’re more than up for the challenge! I also know I probably sound idealistic and maybe even mushy (yeesh), but I know that you, like me, have who-knows-how preserved a soft, empathetic chamber in our hearts for teens. We remember that merciless emotional meat grinder and we’ve lived long enough to tell about it.
Finally, will you remember how much I appreciate what you do so well? Because I do.
Growing up is hard, love. Otherwise everyone would do it. ~ Kim Harrison