Friday, January 14, 2011

Young Adult: Sex, Drugs ... and life lessons?

Alright, so I am a huge YA fan. For those not in the know, "YA" refers to the "Young Adult" section at the store that is nestled somewhat arbitrailty between "Children" or "Middle Grade" and "General Fiction" at the bookstore (I tend to find it, in actuality, between "Middle Grade Fiction" and "Home & Garden" for some odd reason. Why? Well ... actually, all of the explanations I have thought of include aliens and/or mind control, so ... I haven't an idea.)

I write YA. I read YA.

And here's my beef: I have read YA for about as long as I've read (I was never a picture book person - not sure why, but as soon as I understood that reading = freedom, I picked up novels and never looked back), and I genuinely like them - but I hate the implied censorship of them - always have in fact - when it comes to things like sex, drugs, dysfunctional families, swearing and other such taboo things.

I get the arguments - kids should not be exposed to certain things.

And to that I say - I'm sorry, what? Says who? And why? And why is it that our culture suddenly has this overly developed sense of protecting children for "their own good"? And where do adults come off as thinking that isolating teenagers from this will somehow make them less likely to engage in behavious these things allegedly encourage?

I was a teenager not too long ago. By that time, I was reading everything, not just YA. And I avoided YA for a while because I felt it was too ... baby. I mean, who says "Golly!" anymore? (K, so I can't remember reading that outside of those Gidget books and movies, but honestly, think of this as a metaphor for the wider issues). I started reading my Mom's romance books (without her knowledge) by the time I was ten or so. I started with So Worthy my Love by Kathleen Woodewiss, and it still sits in my bookshelf.

Why did I read that when I could have stuck with the Babysitter's club? I think, mostly, because I looked around and realized that a lot of the YA books were just ridiculously unrealistic.

More to the point, I desired something more to my reading. I didn't want this sunny and happy perspective where the biggest thing that went wrong meant being sent to your room without tv. My life was not like that, and I didn't want to read about kids who were like that.

I wanted sex and drugs and complications - I would read parts of books over and over, just for a hint of that. Like Caroline B. Conney's series of Christina novels (Snow, Fire, Fog) - the love triangle, the kiss in the cafeteria! - and her Milk Carton series - where they end up in a motel, trading sexual barbs - nothing happens, but the tension is there and it's complex. (I am a huge fan of Cooney's work, it must be said).

I didn't want to be protected from these things! Why would I? They just opened up a whole new world for me - a world that I was on the verge of exploring.

And that is why, when I write YA - I write for the teen I once was. I write in the sex, and the drugs, and teh swearing - when my characters talk, I hope they are just as awkward as teenagers are supposed to be - when they love, I want it to be with all the pomp and circumstance of a real teenagers.

I would never presume to protect my readers from the world - I am offering them a glimpse of what I have seen, a small taste of what the world could be - with all its complications, dirty and clean, smart choices and bad decisions - and I do this because I respect them. I have great respect for readers in general - and I would never presume to hide from them, things they would want to know about.

I guess, the point is - why are we really trying to protect our kiddies? And why from these specific things? Why always the triade of Sex and Love (you know, the bad kind) and Drugs? Is it that we do not trust our kids? Or do we just want to protect them in a world that becomes increasingly harder to cope with?

Anyways, food for thought.
Thanks :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thoughts on Getting Out There.

There is nothing as scary to me, then rejection.

Ok, fine, there are two other things - failure (which is just another form of rejection, right?) and vermin-like-animals (like hampsters ... and rats ... and squirrels).

The point is that sending out query letters, full of hope that someone will see that light that is shining under a bushel (i.e. me and my ever so apparent genius, right?) - and then getting LOADS of rejections is ... well it's like going to law school all over again, I think.

And on that note - even though at the moment, I hate law school as much as I fear squirrels - I sent out those applications, and I withstood the rejections I did get, and ended up in law school.

So I suppose, what I am saying is that I should stop procrastinating - I should stop allowing myself to be cowed by my own fear, and I should get out there and send in those queries!

Because hell, I may just get a million rejection letters - but at least I am allowing for the chance that one response will be "Hey - you're halfway decent. Send more?"

What are your thoughts?
Sorry, mine are a bit erratic, aren't they?

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 in Writing

Happy new year and welcome to 2011 ...


Now onto writing.

Truth is - I have been stuck at 70k words for about two weeks or so now. And I know the ending, I know where all my characters will be and how they get there ... but I need some bridge to get me to the "there".

And more music. Loads more, please - anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Editors ...

Currently, my second book - sequel to the as-yet unpublished first book, and precursor to the as-yet unfinished third book I am procrastinating on at this very moment - is being edited by my Mother and her artillery of purple hilighters.

To say that I am scared is beyond reasonable.

However there is something to be said about in-house (har har, literally) editors. She asks questions where I took things for granted, she pushes me to write "better" - and even when she bitches about the swearing, sex and violence, she does it with a literary take in mind.

Just thought I would mention that.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Writing to a Soundtrack

Yeah, I do that. And as soon as a song pops up that is not like the others ... I can't help it, I stop writing ... weird, right?

And then you have this conundrum:

I am writing, say, a fight scene. DMX and then Cauterize and then some Linkin Park is blasting through my ear drums, my blood is pumping and I am like, "Oh, now I will kick this character in the head and deal them a near fatal concussion!" or somesuch.

Then, suddenly due to the weird properties of "Shuffle Randomize" on Winamp, I suddenly get something that is not fight music. Like Six Pence None the Richer or Rihanna. And then the character gets a pass. No near fatal head blow.

Does this ever happen to you? Does music effect the way you write to the point where your scenes change to accommodate the new sounds?