Writing Without Labels

Writing Without Labels

I was just doing a visiting residency at a great school in Vermont and a seventh grader said to his teacher, “Okay, Boomer.”

Full disclosure: The teacher was thirty-six years old.

Second important detail: The teacher gasped and said, “How old do you think I am?”

The teacher gave me panicked eyes.

The next day the teacher told me that the principal had decided that “Okay, Boomer” was hate speech and that it would be treated as such with swift and severe penalties.

I’m not going to talk about that because it’s Monday morning and I have not woken up yet because … Thanksgiving.

But when I asked that kid later why he called his teacher a Boomer, he said, “He’s just all about his way. He’s old. He thinks he knows who we are.”

We all think we know who each other is. We don’t.

What is a Boomer?

Boomers is a broad category that focuses on one demographic, which is the date you were born. Boomers are part of the generation of births between 1946 to 1964.

I am not a Boomer.

When I visit schools (They ask me. I come. I don’t recruit these visits. Silly people.), I tend to tell kids that your demographics (age, poverty level, religion, gender, sex, race, religion) aren’t what defines you any more than it defines your characters in your stories.

You are who you are because of the things you say, your reactions, your actions, what you do. This is just like the characters in your stories.

Actions Define Us

If you say, “She’s a white woman in her 30s.” You might think of a white woman named Karen who loves Starbucks and Taylor Swift and tends to ask for the manager over the slightest perceived injustice (to her).

But that white woman in her 30s might actually be named Wren and coffee gives her seizures and she is more of a Ani DiFranco fan that a T-Swift person and she would never ask for the manager because she’s got complex social anxiety and conflict aversion.

It’s our actions that define who we are more than our labels. Other people use labels to define who we are. Those other people don’t get to define us. We define us.

Define yourself as someone amazing. You deserve it.



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My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!


It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


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Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

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