No, this post will not be a long complaint about how poor teenage writing irrevocably is. Though as a teenager, I can honestly say that a lot of it sucks. I’ve seen it. I’ve edited it. I’ve been there, though I can confidently say that I’ve moved on from that.
No, this post is about how the world sees teenage writers. In my previous posts, a great number of people reacted with surprise when they learnt that I was a sixteen-year-old girl. I’m sure some people really think I’m some balding forty-year-old guy somewhere. Because people weren’t only shocked at my approach to the subject matter, they were shocked at the grammar, punctuation, and intelligence with which I wrote. I’m no super-genius, I await my GCSE results on Thursday with bated breath. So why is it so rare to find a teenager who can write well, and write intelligibly? Why is such a thing a shock to the masses? Why is it such a shock to me?
The answer is: I don’t know.
Teenagers aren’t stupid. The times may have changed, but we haven’t actively regressed in our intelligence. Even the advent of chat-speak hasn’t significantly impaired our ability to use the English language, because some of the smartest people in my school spL lyk dis and get A*s without a problem (then again, our grading system is suspect at the best of times). Yet if a ten-year-old starts to write a novel, and you compare their writing to the average nineteen-year-old’s, you would not be able to tell the difference. That isn’t a joke, I see this everyday. You’ve probably noticed it here on WordPress–many teenage bloggers do not have the faintest idea of how to construct a sentence in regards to proper grammar and punctuation. And you’ve probably noticed the same trend amongst some bloggers in their early twenties, who have left school and even gotten through university without learning to correct this problem.
So what do we do? Let me tell you.
The biggest insult you can give a writer is that they write like a teenage girl (or Stephanie Meyer, but then that’s the same thing). Yet good teenage writers do exist, like S.E. Hinton, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Helen Oyeyemi, and some people would add Christopher Paolini, though I personally don’t think that he is. Admittedly, these people seem to be the exception to the rule, and there still exists the stigma that all teenage writers are bad, which I discourages many young people from even trying to be better. But. There are blogs. And there are talented teenager bloggers out there, and websites dedicated to helping aspiring youth writers. There are even a few competitions for us to get involved in if one looks hard enough. So I suppose what I’m really trying to say is: next time you see a good teen blogger, give ’em a pat on the back or a word of encouragement. If you meet a kid who says they’d like to be an author one day, don’t laugh and suggest something more “practical” (God I hate that). Point them to a forum, or a to competition they can enter. And try not to strangle them when they say: “Thx, LOL!”