I am a writer.
I sit curled in corners with my laptop balanced on my knees, the keyboard chattering beneath my fingers, a story spilling onto my screen. I strain my eyes squinting at my dim computer screen in the ungodly hours of morning. I stay up into the even ungodlier hours of night trying to patch up plot holes or developing characters or figuring out what to say to Oprah when she asks me to be in her book club.
I am a teenager.
I waste money on clothes I don't need (also at Cherry Berry, because what's the world without frozen yogurt?). I procrastinate. I have a microwave and a goldfish in our editing room for the school newspaper, both of which are strictly prohibited by the school. I do stupid things. I go to Walmart with my friends, and we race each other in shopping carts. I pull all-nighters before exams. I worry about college. I'm afraid of responsibility.
I am a writer. I am a teenager. But I am not a teen writer.
We don't call 30-year old writers "adult writers" (I mean, unless they write for adults, but THAT DOESN'T COUNT). We don't call 50-year olds "middle-aged writers." We don't call 70-year old writers "senior writers." But we're free with the "teen writer" label, and too often, that label is associated with phrases like, they took pity on you. Or they want to use your age as a marketing strategy. Or you're good, for your age.
Listen up. I don't want to be good for my age.
I want to write. I want to get better. I want other people to read the manuscript I've spent hundreds of hours working on. I want what every other writer wants.
I'm not saying that my age doesn't matter--it does, because being sixteen affects me every bit as much as being a writer does. But being sixteen doesn't make me less of a writer. Being a writer doesn't make me less of a teenager.
We are writers. We don't measure ourselves in years, or successes, or failures. We measure ourselves in words. In drafts. In revisions. In the mistakes we learned from. In the stories we promised to tell.
I am not a teen writer. I'm just a writer.