Last week, I read two online posts I hadn’t realized had a connection until a friend pointed it out. Here are the links to both:
The first post included a quote by the director of Wonder Woman—Patty Jenkins:
I’m tired of sincerity being something we have to be afraid of doing. It’s been like that for 20 years, that the entertainment and art world has shied from sincerity, real sincerity, because we feel like we have to wink at the audience because it’s what kids like.
Before I reveal the quote from the HuffPost article, let me ask you a question: What do you think a typical teen is like? Is she cool and confident—queen of her domain?
Or is she awkward, shy, hopeful?
That was a trick question. Is there really a “typical” teen—one that represents every teen on the planet? Nope. With that in mind, here’s the quote from the second post:
[N]ot all teens are adorable, wise-cracking, defiant, sarcastic little squirts. . . . Most of us teens are awkward and spend bus rides thinking up comebacks for arguments that we lost hours ago.
In other words, many real teens are not as cynical as those found in fiction books. Many are sincere—the connector to the Wonder Woman post.
Both posts fed something within me. I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice at the theater. The first post helped me realize what I especially love about the movie: the sincerity of the main character. Oh, she kicks butt with great skill. But (hee hee) she has a genuine interest in helping others.
The second post reminds me of teens I know. Sure, they sometimes grumble about what’s boring. (Read the post above, and you’ll see what this teen finds boring.) But they also talk about what they want to do to make a difference in the world. They have hope. This brings to mind something else the teen author of the above post said
I have something to say that may shock an inexperienced YA writer: I do not automatically and inexplicably hate any of my classmates. . . . In my school, most people like each other!
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I hear you caution. “What about all those teens who bully other teens or shoot those who bullied them?”
Please note that the teen who wrote the above article mentioned her school, not all schools. I also was bullied as a teen back in the day when everybody had a stegosaurus for a pet. I also know teens today who have been bullied. But there are many, many teens who don’t bully others or shoot them.
Also, not every teen has the expectation that in order for a movie to succeed in entertaining him or her, the main character has to be cynical—always ready with an apt, sarcastic quip. They can appreciate sincerity. Men too, if you took note of the author of the first article.
Both posts remind me of what I love: writing about people who aren’t sure of themselves; who get scared or feel lonely and tongue-tied. And yes, some of these individuals are antagonists who harm others because of the pain they feel inside. But they aren’t the quipping sort. In their own way, they are sincere.
Please don’t get me wrong. I appreciate good sarcasm. I’m just not the kind of clever writer who can produce it with aplomb. I’m too earnest and awkward to be convincing.
So lately, I’ve been tempted to give up writing fiction, feeling pushed aside in a world craving something other than what I’ve been writing. But these posts give me hope. They remind me that maybe someone is looking for what I’m writing.
Patty Jenkins photo from slashfilms.com. Other photos by L. Marie. Macy Macaron (fourth photo) and Gemma Stone (third photo) are Shopkins Shoppie dolls by Moose Toys.