Sunday, 1 April 2012

A is for Adolescence

Welcome to the first of my A-Z Challenge posts on the theme of "26 Things that Made Me a Writer". Basically I'll be talking about character traits, outside influences, or anything else that has gone into making me what I am today. I hope you find it interesting!

So today's letter, A, is for Adolescence. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't have a terribly impoverished childhood or any one traumatic event that shaped me irrevocably. I didn't lack for anything materially. But I believe the values and opinions we form as children and especially as teenagers shape us for the rest of our lives, and these years also define our attitudes towards others.

Although my adolescence was comfortable, it wasn't particularly happy. I was a constant target of bullies due to various afflictions: big nose, stutter, dandruff, debilitating social awkwardness, yada, yada, yada. (No, this post isn't going to be all about whining!)

I dabbled in writing from an early age and as I attempted more sophistication in my efforts in my later teenage years, post high school, I came to realise that what's on the surface doesn't really count for diddly squat, though the slings and arrows of outrageous bullying make you feel at the time like appearance is everything.

I'm still driven today by a desire to explore what's going on in the psyche of my characters and what makes people tick. That all stems from my adolescent years. I'd like to know what made those bullies tick and maybe I'll write about that some day. And I'm driven to succeed at least partially to prove that I can make something of myself, that I'm not stupid, and I can achieve something truly great. For a long time I felt like the world was against me. When you've been bullied, that feeling never fades completely, though of course I'm a lot more rational about the whole thing now. I relish getting up in the morning, seeing my family and attacking my work, whereas once I cowered under the covers and prayed for the rest of the world to disappear.

So what about you? How have your adolescent years shaped you as a writer?

23 comments:

Krista McLaughlin said...

I know what you mean. I was bullied as a kid - just a little younger. My only friend in 3rd grade as a tree that I would water. The other kids would chase me around the playground and harass me, but it's shaped me into who I am. It's funny how those bullies have no idea what they do, but it actually made us strong. :) Great post for A!

Tobi Summers said...

I feel a lot like this about my own adolescence. Nothing about it was so terrible, but it had it's moments that I think really shaped me as both a person and a writer. It's great that you're able to turn those experiences into something so positive. Great post!

Cynthia said...

I didn't listen to my intuition as much as I should have during my adolescence. So the lessons I've learned in my youth have taught me to listen better to what my writerly senses are telling me. Like you, I have an interest in knowing what makes people tick, and I try to work that into my writing.

I hope it helps you to know that sometimes bullies pick out targets who have a quality the bullies secretly wished they possess.

Nick Wilford said...

Krista - Glad it resonated with you. I wasn't sure about putting it up as it feels a bit exposing, but I think we've all been there at some point. I was bullied when I was younger too, just felt worse in high school!

Tobi - I think a lot of little moments can be as influential or more than one big disaster. You realise when you get out that the bullies were wrong about you, but for example I still don't think my writing is good enough. Pushes me to keep trying though!

Cynthia - We don't have enough experience as kids to listen to our intuition as much, I think. I just accepted bullying as a part of life. I like your last sentence - I hadn't thought about that!

Elise Fallson said...

High school was my living Hell. I was bullied as a kid for a long, long time. And like you said, that feeling never fades, I still carry the torment. But maybe with age, it becomes a source to draw upon. Maybe that's why I write, to let go of some of it. Anyway, great post, I like your theme!

Sally said...

Hi Nick, yes adolescence if an awful time with pressures from everywhere. It takes courage to make your feelings public.

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

Adolescence gave me humor to handle situations and a darker influence to my writing.

Jennee said...

Great post. Our adolescent years really shape us and I got plenty of material. I guess that's why all of my main characters are strong women.

S.P. Bowers said...

I love your theme for this month.

I wasn't overtly bullied but I was ignored a lot. Being extremely shy and self conscious with no social skills to speak of it was easier to stick to myself. I think that's why I'm still afraid to write contemporary YA. But you're right. Everything that happened helped shape who we are today.

MimiTabby said...

During my adolescence, I wrote stories and poetry, all very dramatic, tragic. I had a very tough adolescence, multiple moves, bouncing from mother to father's house and all the little wars involved, not to mention being the new kid on school, the unfashionable, the awkward. I took solace in writing and also drawing. Drawing won. I paint for expression, joy and satisfaction today.


Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

Misha Gericke said...

My adolescence wasn't all that easy either, although I wasn't bullied.

On the other hand, it was spend with my gran as she fostered my love for writing, so I'd never change anything about it even if I could. :-)

Michelle Pickett said...

My childhood was abusive. I won't go into the details, but I believe it has shaped how I look at life, especially as a parent.

I'm sorry to hear that you were a victim of bullying. I was also. It's a hard thing to deal with.

Excellent post,
Michelle
www.michelle-pickett.com/blog

Ciara said...

I'm raising a 14 year old boy and ugh, adolescence is tough. He's a good kid, but the moods. Yikes. :) Great A post. Thanks for stopping by and I'm following you back.

Sylvia Ney said...

I began writing at a young age as well. Thanks for sharing this reflection. New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.

Sylvia
http://www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

Sarah Pearson said...

Childhood sucked. On the plus side, I learned that books would never let you down :-)

Lynda R Young said...

When I complained about school, adults used to tell me my school days would be the best in my life. That didn't give me a great hope for things to come. Thanks goodness they were wrong. Like you, I had many problems with bullies and turned to writing as a form of escape.

C.B. Wentworth said...

I have memories of writing from when I was 6 years old. I wrote all through my childhood and adolescence as I loved making up stories and fiddling with lines of poetry. When school got overwhelming, that's when I stopped. I didn't pick up a pen again until I was 28. I haven't put it down since. :-)

Sheila Siler said...

I have good memories and challenging memories, all come through in writing as you say. Nice to meet you through the blog challenge!

Nick Wilford said...

Elise - Thanks. No, it's not nice at the time, but turning it into something positive with writing is great.

Sally - Thanks. I bared my soul with this post!

Mary - Humour is a good way to deal with a lot of things.

Jennee - Thanks. I know girls can be just as bad, if not worse, than boys!

S.P. - Ignoring is a form of bullying, I think. No one wants to be left out. I still feel a bit like an outsider, but I don't thinik any writers conform to a "normal" mould!

Mimi - Sounds like you had a pretty unsettled time. Being the new kid at school isn't easy, I didn't have to deal with that! I'm glad you found some expression in your painting.

Misha - That's great that your gran encouraged you in your writing. Even if things weren't perfect, I think everything happens for a reason.

Nick Wilford said...

Michelle - Sorry to hear about your experiences. Hopefully it makes you a good parent.

Ciara - I know about mood swings with a 15 year old girl in the house! I don't think it's plain sailing for any of us.

Sylvia - Thanks for following. I'll do the same.

Sarah - Good point!

Lynda - What a damaging myth that is - just makes kids think there's nothing to look forward to if school days are the best there is!

C.B. - My experience is broadly similar to yours. As you get older you really have to make an effort to find time to write, whereas you have loads of time to write as a kid.

Sheila - Nice to meet you. Yes, it's important to remember the good things too!

What is Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm? said...

Fortunately, I escaped adolescence pretty unscathed.

Being, smart, athletic, acne-free, and with some semblence of social skills was definitely a plus.

Yet with all that, I still felt the need to develop the skills of a chameleon to fit where ever I went.

I am grateful that I found a small, close, group of friends in HS that embraced the oddities of my personality and made me feel safe to be myself.

It's work being the chameleon all the time. If you don't have the space to be yourself, I think you can forget who you are.

Thanks for this theme. I'll definitely be checking back through out the challenge.

Jody
www.cdrvalleyfarm.blogspot.com

What is Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm? said...

Fortunately, I escaped adolescence pretty unscathed.

Being, smart, athletic, acne-free, and with some semblence of social skills was definitely a plus.

Yet with all that, I still felt the need to develop the skills of a chameleon to fit where ever I went.

I am grateful that I found a small, close, group of friends in HS that embraced the oddities of my personality and made me feel safe to be myself.

It's work being the chameleon all the time. If you don't have the space to be yourself, I think you can forget who you are.

Thanks for this theme. I'll definitely be checking back through out the challenge.

Jody
www.cdrvalleyfarm.blogspot.com

Nick Wilford said...

Jody - Thanks for your comment. I wasn't athletic or acne free, but was smart (though not good at quick answers). I agree though, it's hard for anyone to fit in. Definitely very important to be yourself and I also had a small group of friends who allowed me to do this.