This is Not a Writing Manual; Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World (TINAWM), is a writing memoir in the tradition of Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird—but it’s for the young adult writer. It’s the book I wish someone had given me at fifteen, when I was editing my high school newspaper, writing short stories for speech, and dreaming of publishing a novel in the not-too-distant future. It’s the book I wish I’d been able to pluck off the shelf again at nineteen and twenty-five to remind myself that I was not alone and that the writing life was worth living.
Like YARN, my YA literary journal, TINAWM is a first of it’s kind. Before YARN, there were only a handful of places publishing short-form YA, and even fewer online, and even fewer publishing teens and adults side by side. Now there are more venues, and I’m proud to be part of that change. Before TINAWM there were only a handful of books about writing for young writers, and most of those were manuals—handy and full of smart tips and tricks for jumpstarting your writing. But there was no fellow writer putting his hand up and saying, “You want to know what it’s really like?” When I asked at my local indie bookstore if they knew of a writing memoir for teens, they said no, and that they always recommend books from the adult shelves to aspiring young writers.
But I’ve read a number of the books from those shelves, and I know that as excellent as many of those books are, they are not speaking directly to the concerns of the young writer. So TINAWM is for you—the writer in high school or middle school or college, who wants to know what to expect between your writing life now and becoming A Writer.
But! TINAWM is also for any writer who wants to know how to become A Writer and still keep their sanity/pay their rent/live their lives in a meaningfully literary way.
What we writers need most of all are allies, and fellow travelers on the long road of the writing life. I hope TINAWM can be that for you, no matter where you are on that road.