Amy Goldwasser and her troupe of 58 teen authors are in L.A. to celebrate the release of Red: The Next Generation of American Writers — Teenage Girls — on What Fires Up Their Lives Today.
The book’s site, redthebook.com, functions a bit like Facebook with a complete social network and blogs written by all the book’s teen authors. It’s a fitting promotion, seeing how Goldwasser’s whole take on teen writing is that it’s constant, it’s personal and it’s available for all the world to see.
We talked with Goldwasser way back when she was looking for submissions, and we happily caught up with the book editor during her L.A. stint:
1. Did reading the teens’ perspectives bring back memories from your own childhood (or teenhood, we guess), or did their stories surprise you?
I’m finding it’s impossible, shudder, for me or any other adult woman to read these without feeling like she’s right back there. That’s what surprised me: how little the remove, safe distance is. Friends keep telling me things like they can only read two or three at a time because they can’t take the feeling 17 again of it. (Or worse, 14?) And oh, the nightmares I’ve had, right back in school in the worst ways, mean girls and classes and locker combinations I forgot. I love that RED’s speaking to women in their 20s and 30s as much as it is — and, now this one’s a surprise, but so sweet, when a young dad, someone who was never a teenage girl, tells me he can’t put it down.
It’s tough to keep this force of prejudices out of the editing. More than I’ve ever contended with before as an editor, always clear to me who I’d be friends with or not, who’d be friends with me, or not.
But I have to say I’m really opposed to some of these adult women who seem to work in teen media to take back the wrongs of their high school experience. I was really committed to, even when it was a struggle, remaining the grownup. I didn’t even jump into the gossip, tempting as it was occasionally.
2. How has texting/e-mailing changed the way teens experience writing?
I’m nearly 100-percent positive about how blogging and emailing have effected writing for this generation. They’ve taken away the Fear of Putting Something On Paper, made writing personal (love how original and colloquial their styles are) rather than an assignment for school. Writing personal essays is something these girls do every dayâ€”only without thinking of it that way, which removes the terror and the preciousness of it and only leaves the good stuff. If anything this book took some work in the OTHER direction, not that these girls needed to be coaxed to write, but that they were writing too much and
sometimes revealing too much. Instead of being scared of the permanence of writing, they overbelieve in its non-permanence. Had to keep reminding that this book will outlive them, be read by their grandparents, college admissions, their kids.
3. Has good spelling and grammar survived in the digital age?
Yes, I mean no worse or better than it would be without the new media. I think this death of spelling and grammar’s a lot of fuss over nothing — like us, teens know the rules and apply them when they need to.
They just know better than we do when you don’t … I did get made fun of for always capitalizing and all that in sentences. Maybe we’re the ones wasting our time? Wish I could be a little freer like that, incomplete with sentences that are longer than they should be.
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