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Alix Long Headshot

Make Way - the Teenage Writers Are Taking Over the Industry

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Life as a teenager in today's society has its ups and downs. Exams, endless nagging by every adult you know and constant pressure to keep with the 'in' crowd. Sometimes it's hard to find a balance for all the things you like doing. Ask any of my friends. From sleeping in class and homework on the go (normally standing up on public transport) there is not even enough time to see the latest Twilight movie. Life is hard.

But what makes it harder is when your free time is spent not with your friends, but your computer and a dream to make it in the writing industry.

That's right, I'll admit it. I want to be a writer.

It might seem an innocent enough dream, but with all the other pressures that come with being a teenager it's difficult to see the gap that is left in the industry for the budding teenage author. That's why most young people decide to 'wait until they are older' or just give up on it altogether.

In my opinion, that needs to change, and it needs to change fast.

It's been a tough year for me with constant redrafting and editing of my novel, contacting agencies I'll probably never hear back from and hearing people say straight to my face: "This isn't good enough". For any writer, especially a young one, it's painful to hear professional agents and publishers criticise your characters and denounce your storyline because they are what you have created and have grown to love. Especially the inexplicable bits that only have meaning to you that they tell you need to be cut.

The only thing that has made this experience the slightest bit more bearable is the time I have spent publishing online.

I was shocked when I realised how many people were signed up to Movellas.com, a teenage self-publishing website, and how many teenagers were exactly the same as me: loving to write but having been cast aside from the real world of publishing because of their age. I was even more shocked when I ended up with 50 fans on the site and my first story was read over 5000 times!

Publishing online didn't stop me from also sending my work out to the big wide world. Unlike before, I sent out my novel, Finding Theo, with the kind of confidence and pride that I had gained from Movellas and all of a sudden agents were asking if they could read my work instead of me forcing it down their throats.

They saw me not just as a little girl with a stupidly ambitious dream, but a young woman who was already halfway there and had already begun to build a fanbase.

The point I am trying to make is that maybe the vast and sometimes scary world of publishing is not ready for teenagers yet. But with sites like Movellas, they soon need to be. What they don't seem to realise is that teen writers can be as good as adult writers, even better perhaps, as they see things that adults don't and view the world in a completely different perspective.

Publishers are slowly waking up to this and the publication of 16 year old Emily Baker's Loving The Band by Penguin, after it was the most successful story on Movellas, is proof of that.

Teenage ambition can be tough, especially when you have a dream to make it in an industry that is largely dominated by adults. But the times are changing and it won't be long until a spotty, starving, ill-mannered teenager will be on the bestsellers list.