Your Outta Touch, I'm Outta Time

Well okay, I'm the one who is out of touch, in case the choice of a 30 year old Hall and Oates song as the title of this post didn't clue you in.
I noticed that somewhere around my mid-thirties I began using the phrase "I'm old" as an automatic response to anyone who balked at the fact that I didn't keep up with what's cool with the kids these days. Recently, a friend's tweenage niece looked at me in abject horror and exclaimed, "Have you been living under a rock?" when I mistakenly asked her what One Direction was. For other old folks, it's a band that 13 year old girls can talk about at length. But honestly, I'm not old. Sure, 40 is looming around the corner, but 40 hasn't been old since we stopped working 12 hour shifts in the fields, had babies at 14, and created antibiotics. I figure once they start replacing vital organs with titanium robot parts, I've got another 100 years to kick around.
But I am woefully out of touch.
Why does this matter? Because after I finish the final book in The Eyes of The Sun, I'm starting a young adult sci-fi. I read a lot of young adult fiction and apparently that is normal for women my age, so don't judge me. But I have to admit, half the time when the author name drops a current song or popular show, I have no idea what they are talking about.
I want to connect with the audience and keep my work relevant, but I have to wonder if I really need to worry as much as I am over this.
For example, if you were a tween girl at any time in the eighties or nineties, you probably read Sweet Valley High books. Now, I don't know what they were like in the nineties, but in the eighties, Francine Pascal did not have her finger on the pulse if youth culture. The popular kids had sock hops. The cool rock band she name drops is... Linda Ronstadt... in the era of Madonna and Michael Jackson. Everyone was white. Wait, that's a different issue.
Anyway, the point is that the series was so popular that the Wakefield twins were juniors in high school for almost twenty years. So maybe there's something to being out of touch. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to have the cool kids 'Bing it' when they need to do a web search. I have standards. But they might listen to Devo instead of Lorde, whatever a Lorde is.

Comments

  1. When I was a tween, I read a lot of Hermann Hesse, a German author born in 1877. I've never read Sweet Valley High. I think that you should never try and second guess what your audience wants; just write a good story.

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    Replies
    1. I tried reading Hesse, but not when I was a kid. I admit, at 13 I 'graduated' to bodice rippers and received a pretty skewed viewpoint of both sex and history.

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    2. I read one of those, I remember, and it completely blew my mind. Then I went on the the People's Almanac, and read the Kinsey Report. That was very different!

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