With NaNoWriMo in the not-so-distant future, I’ve been thinking about fiction a lot. And that means thinking about genre, audience, blah blah… all the important stuff you’re supposed to understand when you’d rather be making up a story.
That said, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that, if I’m going to write fiction, it should probably be YA. Young adult fiction. Y’know, stuff for teens.
May I ramble, rant, and think out loud for a bit? Okay. Thanks. :)
I’m not sure how this epiphany came about. I think it was the culmination of multiple things. For one thing, this wonderful blog post in defense of YA.
I don’t feel guilty or bad about writing YA. I really enjoy the creativity and freedom allowed by YA, and am proud of my work and the people who write and publish in my genre. But for some reason, I still have to defend YA, and my choice to write it, to the adults I encounter. As if they’ll think that writing YA makes my work lower quality. But why?
Until I read this last month, I didn’t realize that I was in the same position… that somehow, I had it in my head that everything I write had to be something meaningful… “literary,” if you will. In the creative writing class/workshop I took earlier this year, I wrote a story centered on teenage characters coping with the loss of their mother. At some point during my workshop, a change was suggested (I honestly don’t remember what. Sorry Ms. Magarine!) with the thought, “Unless you’re writing this for teens… which I don’t think you are.”
Now I wonder, why not? Why shouldn’t it be?
Most of my favorite books are unashamedly children’s or YA. I couldn’t tell you a single current literary novel that I adored (no, I take that back… perhaps Eva Moves the Furniture). I can tell you that The Last Unicorn, Coraline, Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Chronicles of Narnia have all left their mark on me.
I think Megan hit another key point in her blog post to why YA is so popular beyond it’s target audience:
And to me, YA is less pretentious. It’s not trying to be something else or prove to readers how smart it is.
Pure, undiluted story. Even if there is some message below the surface, you can still read quickly and trust it to reveal itself, gradually, a Polaroid of something more true than the story leads you to believe. It’s the reason why when I couldn’t focus long enough to get past chapter one of The Hours, I was able to devour Twilight in three days. Sure, I love to hate the book, but it held my attention. Perhaps it’s better than I give it credit for. (Or I was sicker than I thought. :))
There’s a passion in this genre too. We all love to pick on teen melodrama, but there’s something honest there, something that I think we lose as adults. I’ve always been fascinated by that time of life that’s too grown-up to be a child, but too childlike to be an adult.
Recently, I read Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Not really YA, but it was a straightforward fairy tale, and I consumed it with a hunger that I haven’t felt for novel in a long time. So what if he used adverbs and followed a linear plot? In the end, I was a bit sad to leave Tristran and Yvaine behind.
And that, my friends, is a good book.
So I’ve made up my mind (I think. Do writers ever really make up their minds?) — Music Lessons, my little workshop story and novel-in-progress, will be YA, and perhaps so will this year’s NaNoWriMo project. Maybe it can cross genres. Maybe it can even be a sort of literary YA. Who knows?
All I know is you’re supposed to write the story you want to read.*
*By the way, I’m pretty sure I stole this quote from somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it. However, I did find a neat blog post on writing what you like instead of what you know. Worth a read. I like this manifesto.