Too Hot to Handle

For young writers, the dangers of shining too brightly, too early

For Woods, her age worked to her advantage. "There's a youthful spirit," she says. "When you're that young, you think, 'Why not?' " She has another secret to avoiding pressure when writing: to not tell anyone. " 'I'm writing a book' doesn't sound as good as 'I've written a book.' "

Vizzini says he has recovered from his breakdown but is still very aware of what he has achieved at such a young age and how that sets a high standard for anything else he does.

Now, the 25-year-old author of three books is living with his mother and grandmother in Park Slope and teaching high school math in Fort Greene as part of New York Teaching Fellows. He says the challenge these days is to figure out what will fulfill him.

illustration: Koren Shadmi

After getting out of what he calls a bad long-term relationship, he went through a four-month obsession with an online fantasy game called Magic: The Gathering when he didn't do anything except work and game. He has just now started going out again, meeting new friends and rediscovering New York. And he writes more than just books—recently, he wrote the lyrics to two songs, "I Wanna Work in an Office" and "I Love Two Girls," and is working with an indie-rock band, the Harlem Shakes, to record them. He also tinkers with writing text messages, coming up with ways to impress girls he meets at parties in just 160 characters.

And he has started writing a new book, one that he hopes will be marketed to adults. The plot? "It's about a guy getting out of a bad relationship and getting introduced to New York for the first time in a long time."


**This article originally stated that Stuyvesant High School was in Brooklyn.
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