Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Hey there Young Adult writer friends (or anyone really)… Would you do high school again if given the chance?


HATE-HS-GIF(Okay I didn’t feel THAT strongly about high school, but…)

Writing YA brings back so many…memories of high school. I’m getting back into the swing of  writing after my two month Southeast Asian travel extravaganza. After finishing up my novel set in Belfast, I’ve decided stick close to home for my new one. And by close to home, I mean exactly home. Rafa and Rose (title tentative) is set in my hometown and at my high school. I’m super-excited about it. First because I’ve been living in Singapore for the past year and I’m missing all things Wisconsin. Second because it gives me a chance to unpack and remember that part of my life in rural Wisconsin–setting, culture, and personal experiences. Not going to lie, I wish I would have thought to bring my yearbooks to Singapore haha.

38-tragically-awkward-prom-photos1.jpg.pagespeed.ce.eYRUu6KBWeSo for this novel, instead of spending hours and days and weeks and months researching setting, dialect, history, culture, etc., I’m delving into my own brain. It’s an interesting psychological journey, traveling back to a place and people that I’ve left far, far, far behind. And not always pleasant. My fellow YA writers, I’m sure you also tap your own memories of experiences and emotions from that part of your lives, too.

high school 1All this has got me thinking…. If given the chance, would I subject myself to high school again? The peer pressure, paranoia, fear of rejection, lovesickness, anxiety over grades and ACTs and college admissions, the drama, self-consciousness, cliquiness. It’s such a strange microcosm of existence. And then biologically, if you look at what’s going in your brain with hormones and frontal lobe development and emotions.

hs doesnt matter(Doesn’t feel like it at the time, does it? Everything matters, is life or death :P)

On top of that, the American “high school experience” is glamorized, sensationalized, dramatized so much in the media; it  sets these expectations of what it should be like. Just a recipe for disaster.

I wouldn’t do it again as the person I was then. If I had the confidence and extroversion I’ve sprouted since college, then I probably would be game. Lots of things I would have done differently.

Anyway next time I’m back in the good ol’ USA, I think I’ll swing by my high school hometown.

What about you? Would you do high school over again? What might you do differently?

If you write YA, how do you harness your experiences growing up when you write?

7 thoughts on “Hey there Young Adult writer friends (or anyone really)… Would you do high school again if given the chance?

  1. phantomwriter143

    *Shiver* I don’t know if I could ever do high school again. Even as the adult I am now… I’m still pretty much an introvert and I’ve never been popular. I’m fine with that now, but it’s horrendous being the butt of so many jokes at such a tender age.
    The only thing I’d re-do from high school is the swim team. I miss that more than anything.
    I write in many genres, but am focusing on MG. However, since it’s currently a seven part series (that may change), the kids will grow into their teenage years and yes, you can bet I’m drawing on my own experiences for that. Both the rare good and the frequent bad ones.
    I just don’t think I’m strong enough to re-live high school. Now, college? That’s a different story. I’d do that again in a heartbeat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Yeah, I agree with you on college. For me, especially grad school. Yeah, I wish I could take a larger survey. I have a theory that most people probably wouldn’t lol. Unless they were popular. It is very interesting delving back in that part of my life though lol. Thanks for sharing!


  2. authorleighmichaels

    I do at times wish I could go back to high school so I could do some things differently. But as phantomwriter said, I am an extreme introvert, and was painfully shy and awkward in high school. I was bullied horribly, and would not want to experience any of those experiences again.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      So even the people who enjoyed high school wouldn’t do it again. Yeah… Oh high school. Such a dangerous mix of hormones, feelings of invincibility, desperation for peer acceptance, academic and impending real life pressure, parent drama, and just plain stupidity. Oh, if only our frontal lobes finished developing before the age of 25… haha


      1. sjoycarlson Post author

        This is probably true, but my theory is that it would drastically decrease the amount of frequency of generally selfish stupidity that high schools subject themselves and one another to. At least one would hope….though I can’t say that the adult world has any less selfish stupidity, so perhaps you are right!


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