I should probably be writing some kind of review of 2010 today, but frankly I'd rather chalk it up to experience and move swiftly on. As a much better writer than me once put it: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Instead, why not join me in celebrating my 26th year of being a teenager? Yes, I will admit that mathematically and physically I don't actually qualify. I get served in the pub without ID, and I'm able to buy all sorts of inappropriate movies and games with nary a flicker of interest from the sales clerk. But I feel like a teenager. As I climaxed a row with my not-yet-teenage daughter the other day by flouncing out and slamming the door, I was struck by a horrifying thought - what will it be like when there are two of us in the house?
Age has given me many things - a few grey hairs, a sprinkling of wisdom, a painful awareness of my own mortality. What it has yet to gift me is the thing I yearn for most - emotional stability. I still live my days in a jumble of contradictory feelings and fear I always will. But while this doesn't always make me fun to live with, I think it gives me a massive leg-up when it comes to writing teen books.
Those teenage years are a unique time in our lives, a period where the heart rules the head in almost everything. It is a time of being utterly alive - with all the pain and pleasure that entails. Even on my current emotional rollercoaster, I miss the intensity of teenage feelings, the experiences so raw that I can almost stretch out my fingertips and touch them.
When writing a book for teens and pre-teens, I feel my responsibility is not to the plot, characters or language but to the emotional truth of what goes on the page. So many times I've read a book or watched a film that, while admirably made, doesn't connect with me on an emotional level. Perhaps this goes back to my inner teenage state, an inability to appreciate art on a purely intellectual basis. But I'd also argue that art has no business whatever being intellectual!
After I'd calmed down the other night, I went back upstairs to apologise to my daughter. She'd been crying, so I comforted her, felt bad and lamented the fact that I was this stroppy teenage Peter Pan figure. She looked at me with pink eyes and said "At least you haven't grown up and got boring, Daddy." Amen to that, anyway.