Monday, November 5, 2012

On Being Eighteen

So last week, Cally Jackson hosted a blogfest on memories of age 18. This was in part, due to her new release of The Big Smoke, a new adult story that I've mentioned on this blog before. Although, I'm late to the blogfest, I still wanted to post because I think this new (and somewhat controversial)  genre is so important.

Writers like Cally are slipping past the gatekeepers (who insist this age category is not relevant in today's market,) and paving the way for other authors, as well as bringing age appropriate content to readers who no longer fit the young adult category. Let's face it, 18 and no longer in high school is way different than 16 and still in the confines of high school life.

I graduated high school when I was 17 and got to start my "adulthood" a little early. When I turned 18 I was already in my first year at a local college and anxious to move out and be on my own. High school was great and all, and I had a steady boyfriend, but honestly, I was ready to start a new life.

I'd grown up in the same town with the same kids and don't get me wrong, I had an excellent childhood, but I felt the call of the wild. Big time. I was stifled by my parents' rules and felt my individuality had been stunted by the same old same old. And marrying my high school sweetheart just wasn't what I wanted until I'd had a chance to be my own person. (Yeah, I know, but hearts had to be broken.)So when my best friend decided to move to another city and asked me to be her roommate, I jumped at the chance.

We started college in a new town with our own apartment and although my school was paid for, it was up to me to work and pay rent. Meanwhile, my roomie was fully sponsored by her parents, and I admit that was a little hard to digest when I struggled to make ends meet, but it was also liberating because I got to call my own shots.

Being 18 and on my own for the first time ever was like I'd won the lottery. I'll always remember it as the best and in some ways hardest time of my life. When I finally got to shed the local trends of my hometown and become my own person, I flourished. I will never regret that choice. I was making adult decisions, even though I was a fledgling adult, and assuming responsibilities I'd never had before. I found my own style and developed my own tastes and discovered others who were similar. To say I made a few mistakes along the way, would be an understatement. I made a TON. But they were all mine.

That's why I strongly support the NEW ADULT genre as a separate genre. That age group is doing things younger teens aren't, and put in situations younger teens can't be put in. On the flip side, the difference between a 25 year old and age 18-23 is widely different. At 25 I was comfortable and confident in my shoes and I was on top of the world. But at that early adult stage beforehand, it's all so brand new.

Starting life after high school is like no other time. It can be scary and exhilarating and full of uncertainty. Stories that cater to that time frame are ideal, and I would've devoured them, had they been around.

There are many NA (new adult) writers out there and the genre is finally starting to grow. Small presses are recognizing the genre more and more. And there's even a NA Lit chat that happens every Thursday night at 9.

The NA Lit chat host happens to be an awesome writer/blogger friend of mine, EJ Wesley and what he's been able to do with these chats is amazing. You should check it out! There's a link to the right on my sidebar, but you can also go here for EJ's blog and the NA Lit chat homepage. The Twitter page is right here, too.

EJ has his own NA book out, as well as Cally.
And, psssst.... there's a NA eBook on the sidebar to the right here called FLOAT that just happens to be from yours truly. ;)

What are your thoughts on  the NA genre? Write it? Read it? Have you been to any of the chats? How about your own memories of being 18? Please share ...

22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can barely remember back that far!
Going out into the world on your own at eighteen is a big deal. Mistakes or not, sounds like it was just what you needed.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I recently fell in love with NA books and my new project will be NA. Because it's still not popular with agents and publishers, I currently have plans to self publish it. But that's not for another year. Maybe things will have changed by then.

Thanks for the links, PK. :D

Libby said...

I've only read EJ's (loved it) but I wish it had been around when I was 20. There aren't a ton of books for this age bracket and it would have been nice to see MCs that had experiences that were similar to my own.

Linda Jackson said...

Your post makes a very strong case for NA. And boy were you adventurous at 18! :)

E.J. Wesley said...

PERFECT NA post, PK--and not just because you mentioned me. ;-D

I, like you, truly became the person I am in that 18-22 range. It was like I was able to put the small parts of individualism I'd acquired as a youth into practice, and they all came together.

I learned what adult relationships were, and how I needed to grow in order to have one someday. Definitely made my share of mistakes, but also had a few triumphs (getting a degree when no one else in my immediate family had one, etc.).

So yes, I think having a category in literature focused on that age is important. And as an author, if I can do a small something to help make that happen, I'm thrilled.

Appreciate the shout out lady! :-)

LTM said...

awesome post, and I wholeheartedly agree! This genre is WAY overdue, and for the very reasons you state. I was living on my own at 18 (with a roommate, of course). But I wasn't married, nor was I looking to be. I haven't released any contemporary NA books yet, but ROUGE is "mature YA/NA" although light historical.

The characters have different needs are are facing different problems than HS teenagers~ :o) <3

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I like the idea of the new age group too...hey, they're people too!

Dr. kold_kadavr_flatliner, MD said...

Lemme give you a few thoughts, girly, which shall influence U.S. to reach for Utopia no matter what the cost: FOUR!! blogs (outta 16) tellin of the exxxcitement Heaven Above has to offer, which is an eternity of pleasure-beyond-measure; we ROTE {theeyebeam} to show a true story about sex in Heaven after we croak (apparently, most of U.S. are completely unaware of this fact). C'mon, people. The Liar's a deceiver: absolutely no sex in Hell amid the flames, filth and fuglyness, yet, puh-lenty of sssEX! Upstairs for those who want some. And why not?? Doesn’t God say anything and everything’s possible?? Yeah. Think so. God bless you. Meet me Upstairs where you’ll be 17 and I will be 21 for the length and breadth of eternity - won’t that be far beyond awesome rather than where the explosive oBOMBma wants to lead U.S.?? --- ‘God only gives bawls to those who see the need for humility’

Johanna Garth said...

I love the NA genre. Much of the YA I've read doesn't delve as deeply as I need it to in order to keep me engaged. NA hits that sweet spot because it deals with harder issues. Like you I was in college when I turned 18 and dealing with a whole host of lifechanging events.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Great story of your coming of age. New Adult is a new term to me. Isn't it renaming something that already exists? Or, is it giving name to something that will appeal to a "new adult?"

S.P. Bowers said...

I do think there's a market for new adult. I would previously have lumped it in with adult though I can see how being able to identify it would help with people looking for it.

Barbara Watson said...

NA is such an important genre. Like YA did for its audience, it will fill a place for new adults and provide insight for those sometimes tough times.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

NA? Nah. This seems like music where we started out with just like rock-n-roll and now you got like a thousand offshoots of it with all these little niches and whatnot.

Old Kitty said...

Now that you mention it, for me being 18 was vastly different to being 25!! Gosh, I have to think about this one!! Thanks PK!! Take care
x

michelle said...

For me, New Adult is a fairly new but interesting concept/writing genre...
I also discovered a site where this genre is showcased, it's at http://naalley.blogspot.com
Check it out!
And I've got to say that, at 18yrs old, you were quite an adventurous soul!

fOIS In The City said...

PK, love that this new generation is out there. But more for my grandchildren than for me or even my own kids. Yes, it's been a long time and if memory serves, I was a gaggle of nerve ends at that age.

First gen Italian American, my dad's fav response to one of us wanting to move out ... especially his ony female child , "Italian girls leave their parents house two ways. In a box or in a wedding dress." End of discussion :) He was like my I-tie John Wayne and even though he never lived to see my 18th birthday, he was there with me as he is today.

Loved this post and the NA take on our world ... you go get'em :)

Roger Lawrence said...

I love this idea. Although I write Y/A I sometimes think that my work is a little old for the younger children. Not for offensive reasons but in order to make it readable for all, some of the nuances of older adult language are sometimes lost on the younger.

jamieayres.com said...

I enjoy NA books! Blogged about one today:-) I wonder if it's okay to copy this blogfest? LOL . . . my novel that debuts at the end of January is called 18 Things and my MC turning 18 is a crucial point! Oh well, guess I'll have to think of something original.

alexia said...

My first book is NA. I really like writing for that age bracket. Eighteen was a super intense time in my life... glad to have it behind me!

Cally Jackson said...

What a wonderful post, PK. Loved hearing about your adventures at 18. I'm going to add your post to the blogfest linky list if I can.

I couldn't agree more with the reasons you've outlined about why New Adult should be recognised as a separate category of fiction. Small and independent publishers are recognising it, but who knows if traditional publishers will ever 'see the light'!

William Kendall said...

I'd be inclined to grab my eighteen year old self by the throat and throttle myself... just for good measure!

Donna Yates said...

I think NA genre is much needed. I just got EJ's book and can't wait to read it.