From the ages of 13 to 17, I was a diligent journal-writer. I loved my journals. I would name them and write to them as if they were some far away pen-pal who couldn't wait to hear from me. The names of the journals I recall right off are Carnation, Rainbow, and Tulip. I always felt like the first two were better "friends" to me and more understanding than Tulip. She was always judgemental and sarcastic. (To this day, I still keep the Rainbow's key on my keychain even though I haven't written in there in 13 years.) I went through phases where I'd write daily to my journal friends, then inexplicitly not write for over a month. When I read through and reflect on what was going on in my life at those times, I can remember exactly why I wasn't writing -- because I couldn't be honest about what I was going through. It's strange how those events from over half my life ago are still in my mind. I can read what I wrote, but I also have the ability to read between the lines about what isn't on the page. It's like I was writing in a secret code that only I can decipher.
I met and hung out with other writers when I took the nine month course at the university. They were all writing sci-fi, thrillers, or historical fiction -- you know, adult stuff. During critiques, they were sometimes astounded that I could write YA in a convincing teenage voice. Some of them could remember who their first kiss was, but they couldn't remember what it felt like. They could remember going to a dance, but they couldn't remember what really happened. They said they could never write YA because they just don't remember that period in their lives with enough clarity to be convincing.
It's kind of made me wonder: Are the adults who write YA able to remember so well because, like me, they've kept journals over the years that they can look back on? I'm really very curious.