teens — a notebook entry (soLs)

Every week there’s a group of high school kids that hang out at our house. I make a dessert and they eat it and talk. It’s the best. One of the reasons I like it is because I get material for YA books. I love to listen to them talk and watch their mannerisms. Mostly, though, I love how they make me laugh.

So here’s a quick list of things I noticed that may (or may not) influence my writing.

  • “She’s in hot water because she posted about the play on FB. There’s like 50 responses. Here, I’ll read some to you.”
  • As far as dating status, there’s…
    • talking
    • hanging out
    • going together
    • dating 
    • serious. 
  • They have different laughs. One that is for something that is all-out funny, another is a surprise. There’s a laugh for “I-don’t-believe-you-just-said-that” and a nervous laugh too.
  • When we get together at night, they wear totally different clothes than what they wear to school. Sweats, athletic shorts, t-shirts (almost always with the school name on them), and ankle socks or knee socks (if it’s the winter). Girls have their hair pulled up in sloppy buns or pony tails. Guys wear hats.
  • They are concerned about homework. And they have a lot. They complain about teachers saying, “This is so easy,” or “This won’t take you long.” They also complain about teachers just lecturing and lecturing and lecturing and not giving time to work.
  • They are tired. Their days are full and they don’t get a lot of sleep.
  • They are stressed. School is overwhelming. Sports are demanding. Then they balance friends and families and work. They are making decisions about college. They are doing their best.
  • They tease each other. A lot. They laugh and stick out their tongues and say, “I’m just kidding.”
Lots of other things, but that’s enough for tonight. It’s these kinds of lists that fill my writer’s notebooks. Maybe someday this kind of collecting will pay off.
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10 Comments »

  1. Love that you are actually listening to them. It is one of my favorite activities….eavesdropping on my students…if we paid attention or listened more…a great reminder…thanks for the insight….

  2. Your observations are great! It is obvious that they are comfortable in your home. Maybe one of them could tell my students to appreciate and use the time I give them to work on things in my room…

  3. The list of progression in dating status cracked me up. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into the types of things you collect in your notebook.

  4. Yep, those would be my students. You captured little pieces of them so well. Now, if we could only get teachers to listen to them….

  5. How great are your observations Ruth. I love teens, hence why I love John Green's books. I would imagine he observes & makes lists like you do. Teenagers are so full of life & enthusiasm that I'm sorry I'll never really get to teach them, but I am in touch enough with my former middle schoolers that I get a taste every once in a while. I hope these lists are helpful to you & in the future…

  6. I loved listening to my girls and their friends. It is so valuable what we learn from them.

    I would so love if one of those lists turns into a book – I promise I would buy it and read it!

  7. Your list is fun. I can't wait to see how it will be interwoven into your literature. I so agree with Deb Day – I wish teachers would listen to them.