I’m literally obsessed with the recent Twitter discourse on fandom. All fandom discourse, as a rule, can be narrowed down to three distinct types:
- RP drama
- A creator ran a scam
- Adults and children beefing again
Guess which one this is.
Yeah. It’s the third one.
I am genuinely fascinated by the recent trend of adults in fandom overcompensating for a handful of teens bullying them, by rewriting fandom history to be exclusive to 25+ year olds with no contribution from teenagers ever. “Adults have always been in fandom” can’t be a sentiment on its own, instead the reversal has to happen with “adults run fandom”
Which isn’t true, but also isn’t untrue. Fandom runs fandom. There are sections of fandom more likely for adults to be keeping it afloat, but it’s pretty egotistical to me to claim the responsibility for keeping fandom going.
I’m obsessed with the concept that age is the only factor that marks the quality of a fic and that no teenager ever has written a good fic. Which isn’t true, and everybody knows it isn’t true, but for some reason people are going to try and will this into existence because their entire online identity revolves around bullying children. Yes, as you age your skill improves. This is how most things work. No, that does not mean that teens suck at writing and can never compare to an adult no matter how much they try. There is work that goes into writing. You don’t just age in silence until you hit your mid-30’s and pop off with a banging 250k coffee shop au about some side character from Sherlock.
Even odder to me is then the idea of doubling down on the “age correlates to skill” by then saying that a 20 year old cannot compare to a 25 year old in terms of skills.
Which is absolutely crazy to me because there are 25 year olds out here writing absolute garbage. I’m brimming with ego, so I’m also like ? I know I was writing better than a lot of older adults when I was only 20 so what are you talking about?
There is so much development that can happen between 20-25 and there is also so much bullshit. Someone actively writing, reading, analyzing, and learning will often be a better writer than someone who is not. There are people who stop improving in their writing, and that’s fine people can do what they want, but if no effort is made to change and grow your writing will stagnant.
And again, I am egotistical and I can accept this about myself. I don’t think I’m a perfect writer, and I don’t think I’m the best writer in the world either. I am a good writer though. My writing may not be to everyone’s tastes, and it is still growing, but I am a good writer.
I even went to go find my silly little oc fics for a franchise that will not be named that I wrote when I was 19!
And I think 19 year old TJ was a good writer too! (Forreal, there are a lot of fandom elders I know I would’ve eaten up at 19 lol) I like to read the things I’ve written years ago. Even if some parts aren’t well phrased, or if I would do something instead, it’s still fun to engage with.
I like that 19 year old TJ was having fun! I can tell that 19 year old TJ put care into their work. I can see the way that 19 year old TJ put themself into their writing, and the growth that occurred not just in the craft, but emotionally as well.
I have theories about this attitude towards age and writing because I always have theories. But honestly? I kinda just think that people are embarrassed of who they used to be when they were younger. “Fandom elders are the driving force behind fandom and always have!” is such a weird idea when the people who are saying this are 25-35 and almost definitely in fandom as a teen too. I literally want to vomit blood thinking about it, but I have been involved in fandom and writing fic for 12 years. 13-25 I think that math is correct. And fandom always had teens in it. They were also here making jokes, fanart, meta, cosplay, zines, RP groups, harassment campaigns because that was always a thing, and fanfiction.
I don’t understand why people want to erase themselves from the narrative. The 12 year olds being cringe on DeviantArt way back when are in their 30s now. Who were also definitely brats, by the way. I was a brat. Everyone was a brat. It is every middle schooler’s legal obligation to be a brat.
Again, theory: people don’t like who they were as kids.
First of all, I think that’s a condescending thing to say about art and writing. Although, people saying teens shouldn’t be in fandom are so funny as if every fandom doesn’t live off of the one singular 15 year old who for some reason is freakishly good at anime art and depressed enough to do nothing but draw Naruto jokes as they cope with Sophomore year. (High schoolers, for the record, are legally obligated to be at least a little mean because high school is literally horrible)
But also, I’m just?? I don’t look at my old writing and cringe? I mean, yeah a little bit if there’s something egregiously wrong maybe, but I don’t dislike my old writing. 19 year old TJ was writing cool shit! So was 18 year old TJ and 17 year old TJ and 16 year old TJ and 15 year old TJ and so on and so on until we go all the way back to fourth grade where 10 year old TJ was writing an epic adventure of their original creation: Super Pie.
Which isn’t even a joke. It’s kinda fun to think back to 10 year old TJ plotting this shit out and how I remembered that Danny Phantom had them find three objects of some sort (I do not remember what) so I would need to pick out three objects and battles too. Like, it’s kinda cool thinking back and realizing that you were recognizing patterns within narratives, and intuitively replicating the hero’s journey, but with otherworldly culinary antics.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s even a thing of “let teens have fun” although oh my god please just let teens have fun, you weirdos. I feel like that lowkey still devalues the worth of their art when the only justification can be “teens don’t need to make good art teens can just have fun”. Which is a true sentiment, but also? Teens make good art? They write good fic! They’re of value!
I think that maybe if everyone read Pedagogy of the Oppressed and calmed down then maybe they would think more about the student/teacher dichotomy and how learning is a mutual experience.
I mean, like, deadass? There’s areas where I think 19 year old TJ is a stronger writer than me. I think they have a better sense of rhythm and build up of phrases unconstrained by them desperately trying to remember how commas work. And that’s neat to see because then I can focus on replicating the same concept, but with slightly better grammar (that is still not good. )
I think it’s the wrong message to teach that you should measure your growth as a writer by how much you hate your old writing. I think it does a disservice to yourself, and encourages casual cruelty to past you. I also think adults should stop projecting those unhealthy attitudes onto the teens just trying to write Sk8 fic and maybe go to therapy and unpack their relationship to their inner child with a paid professional so they can stop spending their entire days bullying kids online.
If not for empathy towards children, they should really stop picking fights they can’t win with teens and being surprised when they get dragged within an inch of their life.
You’re not gonna win in the bullying contest! Teens will always be better at bullying than you! They have Tiktok and a diminished ability to conceptualize consequences to their actions! Teens are literally legally obligated to be vicious in clapbacks with no exception because high school is terrible and nothing you say can be worse than that!
2 thoughts on “Writing as a Teen”