The Pride and The Pain

It is a complex thing, parenting a teenager. Knowing when to step back and let them try, and recognising the occasions to stop carrying them and let them manage, are not easy things to judge. A fledgling young-adult still needs support and guidance, but they also need the space and self belief to begin making larger decisions for themselves without interference.

That’s a fine balance, a tight-rope for parents to walk when only yesterday, parenting revolved around making sure they were warm and fed and loved. Checking spelling homework is easy. Making sure they’ve brushed their teeth and answering questions like “when will it be tomorrow?” are not taxing. Knowing when and how to let go? That is much harder.

For teenagers, the stakes are high. They are potent years. For some, the pitfalls will become chasms, for others, doors open onto the world and if the encouragement and the appetite are there, anything becomes possible. If they are lucky, they get to try these things with the safety net of home still in place. Many are not so lucky.

When writing teen-fiction, these are the moments of risk and wonder that need to appear on the page. These are what make it such an exciting time to write about – creating characters and putting them through so many “firsts.” Watching an identity emerge, a sense of self that is ready to take on young adulthood.

So, writing about it is one thing, but for me this week, it got personal. This week, my eldest along with many eighteen year-olds, received her A level results. She romped home with a perfect score and I am prouder than I can find the words for, but I am also just a little bit heartbroken, for now she will leave and open the door to her own world.

That she is strong and ready to fly, that she is ready to go and start making some mistakes and achieving some greatness on her own, fills me with unparalleled joy and pride. At the same time though, she will take one chunk of my life work with her which won’t come round again, one which is irreplaceable, her childhood.

The Beginning

As I begin this post, I am also in the throes of finishing the first draft of my book. A teen fiction novel about a boy, a girl and a flu epidemic that gives rise to super-humans, gifted with strength and highly tuned senses.

Writing is a time consuming thing, it steals your attention like a newborn, the idea refusing to leave you in peace until you give in to the nagging and breathe life into it and finally, tearfully, it is born on the page.

At which point, you may think your work is done? I am told not. Now I need an Author Platform, an internet presence, a whole public persona and a following. I need a platform from which I may springboard myself into the waiting arms of an agent or publisher or, should I go the self-publishing route, my readers. How exciting is that? I get to re-invent myself in cyberspace.

As my first task reaches completion, this is the journey I invite you to join me on. These first lines go out to my nearest and dearest (you know who you are) who put up with me and do without me when I’m “busy,” my book widow and now sadly, my blog orphans.