'Realistic' YA vs the reality of young adulthood

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Remember: when they say that a book is 'realistic' young adult fiction they mean 'an absurd interpretation of our reality wherein people actually have fulfilling relationships/life experiences and don't spend their entire teenage years profoundly bored and wondering if life ever gets any better'.

If I wrote a YA novel that reflected my actual experience of young adulthood, it would be three hundred pages of naps and tomato-and-cheese toasties and waiting for life to begin, which it never, ever does, it turns out.

Fiction is lies. Never forget that. Your life will never contain a satisfying narrative, events are random, other people behave in the most bizarre of ways for no reason whatsoever. The centres of six billion different universes, all of them mad.

If you remember that stories are stories and stop expecting anything of your own life, you won't feel quite as cheated when you discover that the mediocrity never ends, and a new world is never unlocked. There is no coming-of-age, levelling-up procedure.

The amorphous blob that is real life will never shape itself into something more pleasing to the eye, and the power of stories/music/every creative product to perfectly crystallise emotions inside three minutes/two hours/an afternoon will never really be matched. Everything is formless till you're looking at it in retrospect, and you then ascribe to the events their meaning.
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