The Joys (and Challenges) of Working with Teens by Deborah Reber
People often ask me why I do what I do. Why I devote my writing and creative energy to projects aimed at a teen audience. My answer is always the same – I’m a recovering teen. My teen years, and especially the challenges I faced during them, have shaped so much of who I am that I want to do what I can help teens come into their power and feel good about themselves now. I mean really… why wait?
Though much of my work involves writing for or speaking to teens, sometimes I have the chance to work one-on-one with teens – one of my favorite things on the planet to do. This was the case with my series Louder Than Words, which I created and edited for HCI Books.
My job on that series was to find talented teen writers with interesting stories to tell, and then supporting them through every step of writing their autobiography. To be honest, this was one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve had in a long time. I absolutely loved that I got to foster deep connections with these girls and be a trusted person in their lives. I knew what a huge deal it was for them to be tackling the business of spilling their guts for all the world to see, and I virtually, and sometimes physically, held their hand through the whole process. I was honored that these amazing girls let me inside their lives.
Two days ago I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. Though I normally would have let it go to voicemail, for some reason, I felt compelled to pick it up. I’m glad I did. It was one of the authors from the first collection of Louder Than Words memoirs. It had been over a year since we’d talked, but she is working on her first novel and wanted to talk with me about what she should do to get it published. We talked for nearly an hour – about writing, the publishing industry, and college life. When I got off the phone, I didn’t think about the hour of “work time” I had lost. I just smiled and told myself, at the end of the day, this is what your work is all about. Empowering teens to reach for their big dreams. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
Thanks so much Deborah!
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Please tune in February 14, 2011 for my review of the Language of Love!