Archive for January, 2011

Why Write YA? Why Not Write “Real Books”?
January 31, 2011

There’s a great post over at YA Highway written by Kristin Miller, YA Inferior?, that really got me thinking:

A recent Publisher’s Weekly article discusses some of the big children’s titles that were being buzzed about at Mid-June’s Winter Institute. We were excited to see YA Highway friend Vernoica Roth noted for DIVERGENT, the first book in her new series. Yay Veronica!

Later in the article, however, we were disappointed with a comment made by a New England bookseller and co-chair of the New England Children’s Booksellers’ Association. From the article:

“The other, Judy Blundell’s Strings Attached (Scholastic), is so well-written, says Hermans, that it could be shelved with adult titles.”

Which leads to my question for today: why write YA? Why not write “real books”?

All I know is, YA and children’s books shaped me as a reader, a writer, a thinker, a human being.

That’s why *I* write YA. I want to serve — to help shape, enlighten, champion, comfort, applaud, reassure young people as they grow into adults in this often unfair, cruel, confusing and dark world.

I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I see YA as a noble pursuit that remains a noble pursuit regardless of others’ misinterpretations or misguided attempts (intended or otherwise) to portray it as less than it is: a valid, vital form of literature.

When I think of the books I love most in the world, that unleash(ed) that reading journey of magic and wonder, self-discovery and growth, it’s the titles of my childhood and young adult years that always come to mind, continuing to warm my heart and make me smile.

I can’t think of a more worthwhile pursuit than helping those tender, growing shoots of humanity find their way in this world, hearts touched and minds understood and, with a book in their hands, never EVER alone.

I believe there’s so much magic to be found in YA because those years *are* the magic years: the years of stunning, shiny firsts.

Writing YA, good YA, takes three things: heart, honesty, and a willingness not to look the other way.

What about you? Why do YOU write YA?

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Is Writing Ever A Waste Of Time?
January 18, 2011

The questions writers ask themselves during different stages of the writing process, especially writers pursuing publication, seem to be universal:

Is writing a waste of time?

Will I ever get anywhere with my writing?  

The good news is, you, as writer, have the ability to influence the outcome. Perhaps it all comes down to another question, underpinning the two above:

Why do you write?

Up until three years ago, I wrote for the sheer joy of writing. Agents and publication weren’t part of it; writing felt as necessary as breathing. I felt fiercely protective of my words, not wanting anything outside myself to put constraints on how or what I wrote. It wasn’t about the market, grammar, or craft. It was about expressing myself through a medium that fits my soul perfectly.

And then, one day (I can’t explain why) I felt ready to take my writing to the next level. After two years of querying, (along with hundreds of rejections), and two manuscripts, I signed with an agent in October. My first novel is out on sub to publishers, and I feel excited, exhilarated, but most importantly, ready.

I know everyone sees the agent as the brass ring, but there are other ways of looking at the process. Using myself as an example, those years I wrote for myself were just as valuable as those offers of representation, if not more so. The writing grew me into the person I am now, and taught me much about being that person in the world.

Why do you write?

How about the joy of words, the journey of mind and soul and the growth within it, the lessons learned about hard work, perseverance, believing in dreams, being true to yourself, doing what makes you, you?

 Nothing we do with our whole hearts is ever a waste of time. Even when the writing benefits only ourselves, it can still develop us in ways that benefit others and the world at large.

Does your writing pass the smile test?

It goes like this:  the joy felt when doing what you love puts a smile on your face, and then you go out into the big, wide world and smile at strangers, who then feel buoyed up and smile at other strangers, changing the energy of the world at large.

If your words can do that, how can they ever be a waste of time?

A saying in the horse rescue world also applies: saving a horse may not change the world, but it changes that one horse’s WHOLE world.

The same goes for your writing, even if the audience is an audience of one.

Why do you write? Is it ever a waste of time, in your experience?