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The Awkwardness, the Agony, the Awesomeness: Writing YA and What It’s Like to Be 14

The Awkwardness, the Agony, the Awesomeness:  Writing YA and What It’s Like to Be 14

Recently I have been plodding through the self-imposed task of typing up all of my old diary entries (from age 10 to 27) so that I have an electronic copy.

I decided to start with 9th grade, in part because I felt like reading about my high school years would help me write Young Adult novels, and in part because I just felt like it. I figure I’ll go back and do 5th through 8th grade later. (I guess it’s painful to revisit middle school, even in diary form.)

So far it’s been a very time-consuming task. I used to write in my diary a lot. There’s one entry in which I listed every single outfit I owned. Not just every article of clothing, mind you, but every single combination, including what earrings and shoes I wore with each. I also listed my friends’ outfits, although I wasn’t quite as thorough with that, thank god.

Although it’s time-consuming, I don’t feel like it’s a waste of time. It’s really amazing to see the world through my 14-year-old eyes. It’s amazing how much I’d forgotten about being that age and how much the feelings come flooding back when I read my own angsty words. I feel lucky that I have this resource, and I feel like anybody trying to write for younger audiences should read their own diary entries (or someone else’s, I suppose) in order to get back into the teenage mindset.

Eva Dev

Christmas 1995, when I was 14.  (With my brother, Deven.)

 

So far I’ve only typed up August through December of my 9th grade year, but some of this stuff is, in my opinion, solid YA gold, and I can’t help but share.  Here are a few tidbits from my diary and a few things I’ve learned/remembered about being fourteen. (Note: I changed all names except my own for privacy and whatnot.)

What it was like to be 14:

I thought everything was awesome.

Friday was awesome! We went for a walk in gym. In World G we did a map. After school, I went to v-ball, which was great, then I met Dana. She was talking to this guy who was standing outside the library smoking. His name was Jeremy, and he had graduated. He thought I looked older than 14!!!

Then, me and Dana walked to the Grandin and saw The Baby-Sitter’s Club movie, which was good. Then we walked home. On the way I saw Ray and Tony Granada. They actually said hi to me, after Ray screamed, “It’s Eva!” out the car window. Then I saw Lia, Shay, and Liza outside Lia’s house and talked to Liza for a long time. I felt at one with the world.  So far, high school is just about awesome.

 

I was very concerned about boys and getting a boyfriend.

We are trying to get this shy golfer guy to ask Nina to Homecoming and hopefully he will. He’s just shy. I know he wants to. What guy wouldn’t? She is, hands down, the prettiest girl in the 9th grade, and I’m not just saying that because she’s a sweetie and my friend. It’s true…

I think I’m fairly pretty; I don’t see why nobody’s asked me to Homecoming. I know why nobody’s asked Nina. It’s ‘cause she’s so gorgeous and sophisticated, all the guys are like, “she’d never go out with me.” So no one ever asks her out, and she gets low self-confidence. I’m pretty much positive that’s not the case with me because I’m not drop-dead gorgeous like Nina is. So somebody should ask me out.

 

I was very aware of other people and what they thought of me.

Me and Dana tutored after school. My mom was supposed to come pick me up but she forgot, so I ended up outside the library with Ella, this girl Jami, and Sharon. Sharon had cigarettes, so Ella and Jami bummed off her, and Sharon offered me one.

If I told anybody (except Dana, ’cause she knows) that I have never tried a cigarette in my life, they would never believe me. Not that it’s something every kid tries, although it kinda is, but I guess people see me as the type of person who would smoke, or at least have tried it.

P.S. I hope Dana isn’t the only reason people like me. I don’t think it is, though. Sometimes Dana can be too much. I think I’m nice and funny. I hope other people think so, too.

 

Ninth grade is awkward! So much awkwardness!

There was a lot of drama about who would ask me to the Homecoming Dance.  My friends forced the boy I liked –- we’ll call him Matt — to ask me, and then he did, but then he backed out a few days later and asked someone else and I was devastated. I ended up going without a date, in a big group of friends. Despite being date-less, I ended up dancing my first-ever slow dance, which is described in painful detail below:

I was having a lot of fun ‘cause I love to dance. Then, Trip Kensington asked me to dance, so I did. I danced a couple songs with him, but then I didn’t want to dance with him anymore. I just wanted to dance in a circle with my friends. He kept cornering me, though, and holding out his hand. I didn’t want to be mean, but I didn’t want to string him along either ‘cause I don’t like him in that way, and after a while he was really starting to freak me out.

He’s not bad looking, but he’s really not my type. He’s got long, curly, light brown hair, and he’s really tall. After a while I was getting tired of dancing with him. I did dance my first two slow dances ever with him, though. I put my arm around his neck and he put his arms around my waist. He kept sweating and having these spazzes, and I could feel him breathing on my head.

During the second song he kept trying to pull me closer and closer until my head was on his chest. Then the song was over and I ran away. He kept following me, and I kept telling everybody, “if you see me dancing with Trip, come rescue me. I want a Trip-free environment.”

I spent the second half of the dance avoiding him like the plague. He’d ask me to dance (or hold out his hand or say “let’s go, Eva.”) and I’d ignore him. He’d tap me on the shoulder and I’d walk away. I’d start dancing with him, and after a few seconds I’d say, “I’ll be right back,” and run away. It was getting really old, and he was scaring the shit out of me.

I really wanted to dance with Matt. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t want to dance with Trip. I didn’t want anybody, especially Matt, to think I was going with him. I fast-danced for a few seconds with Matt. It was a thousand times better than any of my dances with Trip.

photo (17)

Two years later I went to Homecoming with a date, as seen here.  But it was probably no less awkward.

 

So do you guys remember now? Didn’t this help you remember what it’s like to be fourteen?  The awkwardness, the agony, the awesomeness.

Now I shall harness these memories and emotions and go write some YA!

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About evalangston

Eva Langston is a writer, among other things.

4 responses »

  1. I envy that you have these insights into your bygone mindset, Eva. When my niece was nine, I convinced her to start keeping a diary of her own by explaining to her that when she was my age, she would be so grateful to have a date-specific record of her feelings and experiences, no matter how profound or mundane. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve got your own documentation, and I applaud the courage it takes to make some of those very private thoughts and feelings public.

    Reply
    • Thanks! But I don’t think it takes courage. I find these entries so hilarious and heartbreaking I WANT to share! Besides, the 14-year-old Eva seems like another person to me — someone I knew a long time ago.

      Reply
  2. I started keeping a diary since I was twelve. Recently, I read my first diary,and I realised that at that time, I couldn’t even form proper sentences which made sense. Now I know how much I’ve changed, and thank God for that.

    Reply
    • Yes, as I type up my diary, I’m debating whether or not to keep the many embarrassing spelling mistakes! 🙂

      Reply

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