We all remember our teenage selves. The good, the bad and the misguided fashion choices. It’s the stuff of great novels. Just ask Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow. Or Judy Blume, the author who defined generations’ concept of young adult literature. Judy will be in conversation with Tayari tomorrow night, Tuesday, June 19, 7pm for a live Algonquin Book Club webcast.
Today, we’re sharing Tayari’s essay about her first published story, a memory of her teenage self. This essay appeared on BookReporter.com in May.
From Tayari Jones:
From a very young age, I understood myself to be a tortured, unappreciated artiste. As a little girl, I wrote stories that I stapled together as little books. There was one I was particularly proud of, A TRIP TO MARS, that I wrote and illustrated in kindergarten. No one in my family has any recollection of this or any of the books in that series and there must have been a dozen. In ninth grade, I was enrolled in a high school that specialized in math and science although I was not good in math and I had no interest in science. Still, it was a good school, one of the best magnet programs in the city of Atlanta and besides, it was near our house.
A year before graduation, my English teacher pulled me aside, inviting me to enter a city-wide creative writing contest. Keep in mind that my peers were winning opportunities to attend the international science fair in Japan, yet I had caused a minor catastrophe attempting to concoct the “acid rain” required for my science project. I remember smiling up at my teacher, delighted to be noticed. “Yes ma’am. I’m ready.”