Forget Star Trek: Let’s Hear It For The Next Generation.

Day Seven

The youth of today…  Obnoxious spoilt brats, teen hooligans, hoodies and lager louts. They sleep all day, speak in monosyllabic grunts, leave school barely literate and then expect to walk into a well-paid job and inherit the family silver.

But enough about me…

Was I that bad? Probably, yeah, but don’t tell them that. Our status as adults is built entirely on our supposed superiority to those less-experienced in life. After all, we’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

Adults know best. End of.

And today’s kids don’t know they’ve been born. It’s all so easy for them. Not like when I were a lad…

Now if you’re thinking “God, how true. Bring back corporal punishment and conscription,” then maybe you need to rethink your outlook on life. Because it sounds like you’ve forgotten what it was like to be young.

So listen up. This is an official announcement from MWi: Kids are cool! Even teenagers!

Not convinced? Stick around a few words more and be prepared to be astounded.

~

 When I were a lad…

I so used to hate it when any adult nearby opened with that phrase. You just knew it meant the next hour would be a potted history of nineteen-bow-and-arrow when life really was hard. Meals were eaten only every other Tuesday. You got an orange in your stocking on Christmas Day if you were royalty. Kids spoke only when they were spoken to and any child foolish enough to disagree would be flayed with a cat-o-nine-tails to within an inch of their life. Calculators weren’t allowed in maths classes. You only had one TV, in *gasp * black and white. And it only had three channels! Teachers were respected, policeman clipped you round the ear for eating the neighbours’ apples, and children played in the streets.

We all like to look back and remember the good times and gloss over the bad. That’s human nature. We also like to find fault in anyone doing something we’d like to do but can’t. That’s human nature too.

Why do we always blame the young for society’s problems? Are they in charge? Do they make the rules? Are they running the country? Did they create the mess we’re in?

No. But they have to live with the mistakes we adults have made. The least we could do is show some respect.

So today I’ve invited along someone who still remembers what it was like to be fifteen, to tell us a bit about teenage life in the real world. And the reason they still remember what it was like to be fifteen is because they are, yep, fifteen.

Now hold on, I hear you cry. The MWi blog is supposed to be about reading, writing and all things literary. We all know exams are so easy nowadays you only need to sign your name to get an ‘A’ and most kids can’t even do that. What can a mere fifteen year old know about life, the universe and being a writer?

Fifteen year olds sleep all day, swear at their teachers, and indulge in sordid activities we disapprove of even though we did exactly the same thing when we were their age. They just waste their lives on mobile phones and computer games or watching crap on TV. We’re all jealous as hell. I mean, that’s dreadful! How dare they!

Write? They don’t know one end of a pen from the other, let alone how to write a novel. They have no life-experience. They haven’t been round the block enough to write anything meaningful, and anyway they have the attention span of a pregnant caterpillar and would suffer exhaustion completing a sentence unless it’s written in text-speak.

Or are we just looking for ways to justify our own misspent youth? I mean, when did you seriously start writing a novel, as opposed to dreaming about it?

Most of us will have had dreams of becoming a writer from an early age. And it’s not as if we didn’t have time. In the days before 24-hour television and computer games we had loads of time. So how many words of our first blockbuster had we knocked up by the time we were fifteen? Exactly. Not very many at all.

So why should we expect any better from today’s guest, fifteen year old Miriam?

Miriam wants to be a writer. Yeah, big deal. Don’t we all? Little does she know how much hard work it is. Being a writer isn’t a game. It’s a serious business. Go play Space Invaders or whatever it is nowadays and come back in ten years time when you know what you really want to do.

Sound advice, of course. If you’re an adult and blew that chance you had when you were young. And be honest, we all blew it. There was nothing actually stopping us writing a novel at fifteen. Nothing except our own inertia and lack of self-confidence.

But that’s the problem being a teenager. Inertia. It’s just the way we are, right?

Wrong. It’s the way you were. And me. Guilty as charged. And hereby sentenced to a lifetime of regret for not having started sooner.

Today’s guest Miriam, by contrast, is doing something about it now. Not in ten years time. Not even tomorrow. Now.

Last November Miriam partook in NaNoWriMo. Of course, we all love NaNoWriMo and the excitement of getting a few extra chapters done, right? It makes us feel like we’ll finish that novel one day.

Miriam  wrote slightly more than a couple of chapters, though. She wrote two and a half  books. Just under 200,000 words. Yes, there really are five zeroes there.

No, she’s not claiming to have written a perfect novel. Far from it. But she wrote it. And best part of another. In a month. In between lessons at school, and by getting up an hour early each morning to do it.

And she still writes now, in between lessons. And in between exams. And in between dance classes and doing all the normal things a fifteen year old girl does in London.

And on top of that she had her own writers’ blog, A Farewell To Sanity and follows others. How many fifteen year olds do you know who have ever heard of NaNoWriMo, let alone follow blogs like Kristen Lamb or Nathan Bransford or even that upstart MWi?

And even more scary, she’s not alone. There are loads like her! Precocious teen writers setting out their wares and laying down social media platforms ready to take over the world. Our writing world, that is.

Her current novel is about fairies. And before you jump in, there are books about fairies in the New York Times Bestsellers’ lists. They are hot properties.

Checkout Aprilynne Pike, left.

Fantasy is of course the ideal genre for writers this age (not that Aprilynne is!) simply because they haven’t yet had the life-experience to write a gritty crime novel or a psychological thriller.

But didn’t I say “current novel”? Not even Miriam’s first?! How old is she again?

Miriam explains:

I’m currently editing Watching, which is a tragedy with fairies, basically. No, that’s actually what it is. If there was a trilogy, it’d be called “Death and Fairies“. The longest thing I’ve ever written was “Beneath the Branches” which was historical, based around the legend of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

I haven’t read Miriam’s work, though I’m sure looking forward to it. But it won’t be ready any time soon. Miriam isn’t some deluded wannabe who knocks out their first draft and sends it off to an agent expecting a million-seller hit the following week.

Only an adult could be that deluded. Yes, we’ve all been there. 😦

Miriam is in this for the long haul. So, no books to promote. Not even a photo. Just Miriam, in her own words, on what it’s like to be a teen writer in the twenty-first century.

Enjoy.

WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PARENTHESIS ABUSE.

The best way I can think of to describe myself is to quote the first vlog I made: “I am a writer, because I write. I’m not a successful writer or a professional writer or a published author – I’m fifteen. But I write. And therefore I am a writer.” (I paraphrased that. Bite me.)

My name is Miriam, and I’ve been writing – and reading – for as long as I can remember. Apparently, I’m now representing other teenage writers, which is pretty scary as well as hugely exciting. I’ve never done a guest post before and it’s terrifying, since none of you know anything about me and I don’t want to give a bad impression. I’ll try and be cool and sophisticated and that, but I’m not sure it’ll go brilliantly. This is also about four times the length of a normal post and I’m afraid I’m rambling. I’ll try and be interesting.

So, what shall I tell you about my mental life? Well, I write. I read. I dance. I play music. That pretty sums up me in a nutshell. Right now, I’m talking about writing and reading, but the others are just as important to me.

Too long ago my English teachers learned to run when they saw me approaching with a manuscript. I took part in National Novel Writing Month last November (NaNoWriMo for short) and wrote 193,000 words in one month. 126,000 words of that were one novel. It’s now June, and I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to read through the first draft, not after the typos I found in the last one. (“She resumed eating her sleep.” Sleep? How did soup turn into sleep? Maybe that’s what I needed at that moment…)

I want to be a writer, but I also want to be a dancer, or a dance teacher. I’d like to teach dance to kids who can’t afford it. You know, everyone I tell that to says it’s really noble or whatever. I don’t think it is: I just know how it feels to want to get somewhere and to be limited by what I can afford. My idea of hell is to have a desk job where I’m stuck doing boring stuff all day. I mean, there are no death scenes in finance! Why would anyone want to be an accountant?

(Couldn’t live without my death scenes…)

 I think my parents think I’m crazy, especially when I was getting to school an hour early to write during NaNoWriMo. My friends probably feel the same way. Because my mum’s a careers advisor, she knows a lot about university and stuff. In fact, for someone who knows all too well how little money most writers make, she’s surprisingly supportive, but school work always has to come first. Not the way I’d have it if I ruled the world.

What do I read? Well, too much. I was aiming for 150 books for 2011, but I’m almost there already, so I’m thinking I should go to 300 instead. I tend to borrow seven books from the library each Friday, although I don’t always manage to finish them all.

The first book I have a very clear memory of reading (apart from ‘Starting School’ when I was three) is The Hobbit. I can remember lying on my sofa reading the large print copy with a black cover that had a red dragon on it, since the library hadn’t had the normal one in stock; I was reading it because some actors were coming to our school to put on a play, and I didn’t want them to spoil the plot for me. I was seven. Four months later I read The Lord of the Rings.

I am not ashamed to say that I know most of the Harry Potter books off by heart. They started out with good writing and good plot and finished with excellent writing and excellent plot. You can see how JK Rowling improved from the first book to the last and I hope that when I’m famous (I jest, I jest…) people will be able to say the same thing about me!

Many of the books that I read as a kid were books that my mum also read. My copy of ‘A Little Princess’ says that it cost three shillings sixpence. A few months ago the cover fell off. Ditto with ‘The Load of Unicorn’ and ‘Five Children and It’. And of course we were onto our third copy of the Narnia books, since they fell apart years ago!

 I’m a teenager, so most people automatically ask me if I like Twilight. What is it with this blog and Twilight? I guess it’s just so relevant…

 Me? Well, I insult it a lot. But you know, I’m allowed to. I’ve read all four of them, more than once. In fact I own them all, though my friend’s got one on a permanent loan. I don’t think Stephanie Meyer’s a bad writer, though: I’ve read The Host and I thought it was so much better. You can just tell how much more thought was put into it. So though I hate Twilight, I don’t hate Stephanie Meyer. Go figure.

 Disappointingly, we only have to read one novel for GCSE English Literature. (For Americans and other aliens, GCSEs are taken at age 15/16.) We’re going to be studying To Kill A Mockingbird, but we haven’t started yet so I can’t tell you anything about it. Currently we’re studying The Crucible, which isn’t a book but who cares, and we just finished the poetry unit. I really don’t like studying poetry. If I ever have poems published, which is unlikely, I’ll put a notice in the front of the book: It is forbidden to analyse these poems. I wrote them because I wanted to. They don’t mean anything…

The thing I love about writing is the looks you get from people. No, I’m being serious! They’ll be looking through my MP3 player and they’ll go into playlists. “Uh, Miriam? Death Scenes?” I’d like it to be known that that is one of my favourite playlists.

But I also love the number of people that I’ve met through writing, on the Internet. Protagonize, a writers’ website, gave me some of the best beta readers you could ever have, and friends too. I found it through an advert on Facebook and never regretted it. Twitter helped me connect with folk I’d never have spoken to otherwise, and pointed me towards blogs to read – including this one. My own horrendously-abused-and-often-abandoned-but-nevertheless-occasionally-interesting blog got me this guest post – next thing you know, I’ll be famous!

And I just started vlogging. You probably all know what that is, being technically savvy, but if you don’t it’s a video blog. I post videos on YouTube. Hardly anyone watches them, even when they work. Did I mention that technology hates me? I didn’t. Wow, that’s got to be a first. Usually, in my videos, I talk about writing, but I often get sidetracked.

To quote my friend “SpookOfNight”: Like most writers,  I’m rather prone to starting something, then being distracted (often by a shiny object or the smell of food) and completely forgetting all about said project, only to remember it when I’m halfway through something new and, seemingly, far more interesting.”

            On that note, I’ll—ooh, shiny!

You see! The youth of today really are such lazy b******s it’s unbelievable. Why can’t they behave like we did when we were kids? Sleep all day and vandalize phone booths all night? No wonder the country’s in such a mess!

On behalf of the adult section of the human race MWi offers our most sincere apologies to kids and teens everywhere.

We blew it. Sorry. Hope you do a better job cleaning up the mess.

Miriam, thank you so much for joining us and reminding us all that we too were young once.

When you come back next time please leave out the embarrassing stuff like reading The Hobbit AND Lord of the Rings when you were just seven.

Embarrassing for us geriatrics, that is. I still haven’t read either and I’m *cough*-ty-*cough* next birthday.

Yes, it’s true. We were all young once.

And don’t we just hate the little b******s who still are!

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    • Delorfinde
    • June 14th, 2011

    Ha ha ha, it’s so weird to read my own words! And to see myself called Miriam – I still can’t get used to that. So many people call me Delorfinde on the web that sometimes I forget what my real name is 😉

  1. Hate? Hate isn’t a strong enough word. 😉

    I wish I’d have had half the confidence Miriam has. Then maybe I’d have finished my novel at 17 instead of *cough* ty *cough*.

    Way to go, Miriam! Keep on writing.

  2. Mark, your comments are spot-on, and Miriam’s guest post is delightful and inspiring. I’m going to share this with my 14-year-old niece, and will be checking out Miriam’s blog and eventually, I hope, her book. It is never too early, and it is never too late. Write on, Miriam!

    • Hope your niece is inspired too.

      By utter coincidence Hawleywood40 has a delightful post about teens over on her own blog, which I commend to all.

      • Delorfinde
      • June 14th, 2011

      I’m very glad to hear it, and hope to see you over at my blog soon! 🙂

  3. THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! I love this article – so funny! And well done Miriam … Mim … Del … whatever I’m supposed to call you in these circumstances xD
    And I has quoteage! Merlin’s underpants, I feel honoured! *hugs Del*

    Great work, and I hope there will be more of these to come! 😀

      • Delorfinde
      • June 14th, 2011

      Cheers, Spooks! 🙂

  4. P.S. I’m subscribing by email to this blog – the funny-magics at the beginning just made my day xD

    • Thank you, mysterious Spook. I have tried to revisit your blog a few times recently but blogspot.com sites seems to be having major issues just now. Shame. Loved the post on the all-too perfect female MCs.

      Be sure to check out recent posts in the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun series for some great ideas, inspiring stories and hopefully some occasional smiles along the way.

    • Delorfinde
    • June 14th, 2011

    I tried to comment earlier and it didn’t work! *sad face*

    Wow, you have no idea how weird it is to see myself up there – especially since I rarely see myself called Miriam on paper (or on the screen or whatever) … I’ve got so used to Delorfinde that I sometimes forget what my real name is, and sign emails with Del!

    Glad to see that Spook’s already found this … link is going on Facebook right now.

    Thanks for this opportunity!

    • gerrymccullough
    • June 14th, 2011

    Interesting post! I, also, wrote a book when I was in my teens – begun at 14, finished at 16. It was much shorter than Miriam’s, and not very good. I sent it to a publisher, and got a very friendly, encouraging rejection letter back. All I really noticed about it was the rejection! But I kept on writing!
    I’m betting Miriam will too.

    • How lovely to get an encouraging response, Gerry.

      Nowadays publishers and agents rarely give any real encouragement. If they can’t make money out of you themselves the last thing they want if you going on to success with a rival.

      The most exciting things now for young writers are the huge opportunities to develop their skills on peer review sites, interact with other writers who at least have more experience (not necessarily any better at writing, of course) and build a social media platform for the future.

      I would love to see young people like this get together and co-write for their own age group and give their peers what they really want to be reading, not what some agent or publisher thinks they ought to be reading. With e-publishing it’s a real possibility.

      Ms Del and Ms Spook, are you listening?

        • Delorfinde
        • June 14th, 2011

        Oh yes, we’s listening! 🙂 We’re both on Protagonize.com and we spend lots of time reading/writing works on there – a great way of sharing first drafts too, getting critique and that…

  5. He He He Congrats Del. See I read and I’m commenting *grin*
    (She’s always telling me to do that… Gosh darn bossy kid *wink*)

    As one of them adults, despite that fact I never feel that old, I am inspired. Keep this up and you’ll be urging me to start seriously work on getting myself published. Jsut like that three year old who rode his bike without triaiing wheels inspired me at seven (yes 7) to ditch the training wheels on my bike. My dad still reminds me just how quickly I picked up once I had that drive.

    Keep up the Drive! You know I’ll be buying first editions of everything you write!

    :} Elorithryn

  6. So inspiring to hear from Miriam/Delorfinde! And to hear that some things actually don’t change–like reading our Narnia and E. Nesbit books to shreds. I see a literary star who is busy being born…

    • Thanks, Anne. Future literary stars to be sure.

      I can seriously see teens writing for teens becoming the new indie niche.

      With no dumb gatekeepers dictating who will and will not be read, and ebook prices easily able to compete with other demands on the teen pound / dollar, teens writing for teens is a growth industry waiting to happen.

      Just a shame us adults will need to major in teen-speak to have any chance of reading those books ourselves.

      • Well now it depends on those teens. *grin* I happen to be good friends with Del and Spook on Protgonize.com and I enjoy thier writings very much.

  7. 193000 WORDS? good gawd. In ONE month? you are the devil’s plaything. You must be. wow.

    • Makes ya sick, dunnit? Bloody kids!

      They should be neither seen nor heard, and definitely not read. 🙂

      • Miriam
      • June 16th, 2011

      I object to that comment…
      And I would also like it to be known that I did not consume a single caffeinated drink during that month, simply because mind-altering substances make me nervous 😉

  8. Great guest post! I often wonder what life is like for younger writers. Like Mark, I wish I’d been brave enough to start writing when I was younger. It’s nice to meet you, Miriam! Good luck with everything! I look forward to reading your death scenes. 🙂

    • Åse
    • November 1st, 2011

    I really want to join NaNoWriMo, but I don’t really have an idea (at least not one I’d be able to write 50.000 words about), and I’m not sure I’d be able to finish it in time.
    I love writing though, and I really want to get a book published someday.
    I think I first read Harry Potter when I was 7 or 8 years old (I’m 15) and I still love it! I have also read The Hobbit and most of the Lord of the rings (I’m on the third book).
    And I know how it feels to get distracted when you’ve started a story, and then forgetting all about it :L

  1. June 14th, 2011
  2. June 20th, 2011
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