Today I found this short film (via my pal Storybird), and really, you must stop everything and watch it. It's four minutes and three seconds of pure wonderfulness. Or, as you might also care to see it, it's essentially the heart of many a contemporary YA novel, in under five minutes.
YOUTH from Tommy Petroni on Vimeo.
Sometimes I get reflective, as writerly (and editorly!) types do, and I start poking through my life, looking for connections, because connectivity is a theme that matters a lot to me. And sometimes, like with this video, I just stumble upon the connection, unexpectedly and all in a lovely flash.
As I think I've occasionally mentioned on this blog, before I was an editor, I was a youth minister who worked with teens all across the U.S. and Canada. It was a very different life than the one I have now, but the core is surprisingly the same. And that's a truth I realize again and again, as I uncover the elements that bridge the two: Like building relationships. And helping others to grow and believe. And searching out the heart of what matters. And watching people transform because of the possibilities that they've opened themselves up to. And offering and sharing in no-holds-barred honesty. And most of all, at the core of both are the moments of becoming, like those captured in this video--the moments that are both ordinary and wondrous, the incredible friendships (and betrayals) that shape us, the memories and choices that become indelible part of who we are. Because being a teenager is one of the most powerful, profound, epic, meaningful experiences we'll ever have, as human beings.
I loved working with teens. And I love creating books for them now. Watching this video helps me to remember that: though it's writers and artists and agents and other grown-up publishing folk that I work with most closely now, it's still the readers, the teens and tweens and wee little kiddos, that I'm truly doing it for. The days when we can all remember that--that the books and stories we create are for them, most of all--those are the days when I think we can call this industry its most successful. And I'm so proud and lucky to be a part of it.
Thanks, sixteen-year-old Tommy Petroni, for reminding me.
*Yes, that line, and everything else about this post, also reminds me of this song, which was totally a part of the soundtrack to my own teen years. Anyone else make the mental link between the two?