Monday, July 23, 2012

Words which reveal

I'm both proud of my words, and horribly embarrassed.

While I can happily spend hours upon hours analyzing my own words (or those of others) with the members of my writing group and online CP's, I balk at talking about writing to anyone else.

If someone else brings it up, I'll change the subject, flip it off with a joke or a sarcastic comment.

I can count on one hand the number of people (in real life, not online) who know I write.

It's not something I'm comfortable discussing.

And that's 'cause I'm both proud, and embarrassed by my own words.

Oddly enough, the two are inseparable. It's because I'm proud that I'm embarrassed. Because I'm embarrassed, I work harder so I can be proud.

It's a vicious cycle :)

A while back, someone asked me in the comments why I write YA and whether I thought it was limiting my prospects and, I admit, I've been thinking about the question ever since.

One reason I want to write YA is because it's harder.

...which is why my cycle of pride/embarrassment is relevant.

Let me take this from another angle. In animation, or even just in figure drawing, the difficulty level is night-and-day different between drawing male and female characters. Males are super easy 'cause they're made up of hard geometrical shapes and straight lines. Drawing females is murder. They have so many soft curves/round shapes that they're incredibly difficult. Even harder is animating them and keeping them *on-model* because, literally, a deviation of a line's breadth can make a female character look overweight or anorexic. get three guesses as to which gender of characters I primarily focused on while in animation school.

So why is YA harder? Well, for one, that's like comparing a 10 second commercial to a full length film. In a commercial, you have an extremely limited timeframe to sell an idea whereas in a full length film, you've got 90 minutes.

Writing YA is like shooting a commercial. The audience won't put up with filler, obvious preaching/lesson-teaching, over-written descriptions/etc. Older readers will give you the benefit of the doubt/patience and read work that younger readers will not. YA has to be clean, sleek, and efficient as possible and teens can smell BS from three miles away.

So that's one reason I write YA.

Another reason is because I like the themes of YA, specifically the struggle for self-identity.

Again, because I struggled so much with my learning disability growing up, and still do even today, self-identity/confidence is very much still relevant to my own life, and I think to almost every person out there who isn't a sociopath. I also think that (some) YA is so popular with adults is because it reminds them of their weaker self who was struggling to figure out who they are and where they belong.

In a way, I think it's an important theme that bridges the gap between age-groups.

Lastly, and most importantly, I just write what I what to write, and oddly enough, that just happens to be YA. Again, I think it's because of the themes that interest me... things like trust/betrayal/confidence/responsibility/etc, many of these just work better, and is more relevant, with younger characters, and appeals to younger readers as they are stepping out from under their parents' protection and gaining awareness of the larger world around them.

The themes, the age group of the characters, and the voice all dictate how a book is positioned in regards to categorization/audience.

Personally, I don't think a lot about categorization. I just write the book I want to write and figure it out from there.

As for the notion of limiting my prospects... well, that doesn't bother me. I've never had much of an interest in competing with other people because I spent so much time competing with myself. If I can write something I'm happy with, and others like it as well, I'd be 100% content.

I hope that answered your question, icyHighs :) If it hasn't, feel free to ask in the comment box, and if anyone else wants to chime in, you are perfectly welcome to do so :)

I'd love to hear about why you all write in the genres you do.


  1. the themes in YA is also the reason I chose to write in that genre. And I get being embarrassed by your words. I also change the subject when it's about writing if it's with people outside of my CPs and family.

    1. Glad I'm not the only one :)

      The husband is always telling me to be more confident and talk to more people about it, but I'm taking it slow and steady ;)

  2. You mirror a lot of how I feel about my writing, and you hit it when you say that YA can be appealing to adults because it reminds us of our own insecurities. That's true for me anyway. I enjoy reading and writing YA because it seems the most lenient genre for exploration of the self, of emotions, of finding a place in the world. Thanks for sharing - what a wonderful post!

    1. Yes, I love the themes :) There are so many great YA books out there, and until I started writing the genre, I really didn't know that, so I didn't fully appreciate it.

      Then again, I think I got hooked on YA even before I knew what it was. I have a habit of picking up random books just 'cause I like the colour, and in that way, I bought 'Speak' by Laurie Halse Anderson I guess sometime during the first year it was published. I loved it so much, but really only found out it was considered YA 10 years later.

  3. It's amazing how many of us there are out here that are like you...who write but don't share that with anyone. I'm the same way.

    1. Only share with a select few, right?

      Though I do love the comradeship of talking about writing with other writers :)

  4. Before I was published I told very few people I wrote. I didn't want any intrusive questions or comments. It worked out for me.

    I love the tightness of YA writing and all the issues YA books explore.

    1. Yes, very true. I think also (for me) I know a ton of people who love reading and do the whole, 'I should write a book someday...' but who never will.

      ...and I don't want to be one of those people (or thought of as one of those people) who say they're going to do something but never seriously intend to do so.

      When I decide to do something, I fully commit. Which is why I love talking to other writers, 'cause they're just as serious as I am :)

  5. I don't tell a lot of people either.

    Another thing with YA. I'm much more forgiving of a teenager who makes mistakes. They're learning and growing. But a forty year old who does those things (and they do), I'm not so tolerant.

    1. Ah, yes, very true. Books where an adult character just keeps making idiotic mistakes... I feel they are too stupid to live and it drives me crazy.

      People who are struggling with self-identity are notoriously wrapped up in themselves (which is perfectly normal), so it's more likely that they don't really see the bigger picture.

  6. I write YA because it's what I love to read most! I feel like I know this audience because... well, I AM in the audience :) It's fun to write something you are familiar with and would enjoy reading.

    1. Exactly ;) write what you want to write/read, as long as it doesn't turn into a wish-fulfillment/Mary Sue-type situation ;)

  7. I tend to write stuff that qualifies as urban horror/fantasy/weird things, primarily. For me, it's a genre I like to read sometimes and one I enjoy writing in. The reasons for it, though ... if pressed, I'd say it's using magic/weird stuff and such as metaphor, since that's all it is. It's like writing: a lot of people write, very few show it to others. We all have secrets and our secret selves, and I see magic and weird stuff as a metaphor for that.

    1. So, by airing out the strange and weird, you're airing out your *true self*?

      I agree, much of the oddities are metaphors, but I don't know how many are actually about/referencing my true self, just that they're floating around in the grey matter which rattles about in my empty-blonde-skull ;)

      Certainly, I do have an obvious preference for characters coming up against things that are too big for them to ever change... and having to accept that.

    2. Ah, I should clarify: I meant more the character's secret and true selves rather than my own. I have a deep dislike of authors putting themselves into their fiction :)

      My preference is generally on breaking them before the novel begins and seeing what it makes them into. I think it's one reason I like giving characters some quirk/power and then not having it be enough.


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)