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Friday, June 6, 2014

Nonsense

You've seen it, haven't you?

That article telling adults they should be ashamed of themselves for reading kid-lit?

Of course you've seen it, it blew up your Twitter feed. I don't need to link to it here, even if I wanted to. 

So I wanted to briefly (in my traditional, long-winded style) address some of my complaints about said article. After ranting on Facebook, I figured I might as well take it to the streets. Step-Up style!

This is my main beef with that article: the idea that anyone "should" feel "shame" about anything they like doing. 

For example, I think competitive sports and video games are also primarily for children. Personally, I do not find them to be that enjoyable as an adult.

That doesn't mean I think adults who join Ultimate Frisbee leagues or play Red Dead Redemption should be ashamed of themselves. ("You idiots could be DEBATING THE STATE OF THE REPUBLIC or SAVING THE PLANET like GROWNUPS, why are you throwing that tiny plastic circle around for your petty enjoyment!?!")

The author followed up on Twitter by saying that she didn't think there was anything wrong with guilty pleasures, so long as there WAS guilt. But why should people feel guilty or ashamed about something they like? Are we that Puritanical? By the by, when a Mormon is telling you you're being too Puritanical, you've crossed a line. Again, perhaps we should all go throw eggs at the ComicCon attendees, just so they feel the appropriate amount of shame at doing something they love?


Furthermore, I just think the article is demeaning to young people and children. The premise is that adults should be ashamed of reading children's lit (primarily children's lit AIMED AT GIRLS, not that we're going to acknowledge the implicit sexism of the article) because it is less intellectual than adult literature. But it's okay for kids (mainly girls) to read it instead of adult lit because ...why? Kids (cough: teen girls) are dumb? That a 16 year old is incapable of the intellectual achievements of a 20 year old? Follow the argument to the logical conclusion and NO ONE should read books for kids, not even kids. They should go straight from Dick and Jane to The Iliad -- which, in fact, is how kids historically learned to read, and didn't we live in a fantastically intellectual society in the 1930s? (Spoiler alert: No, we did not. There were a lot more Joads than Ftizgeralds, if you know what I mean. Which if you read YA, you're an idiot and you don't, because no one ever has enjoyed both The Grapes of Wrath and Anna and the French Kiss. EVER.)


Then there's the fact that her argument applies to genre fiction as well. She doesn't come right out and say it, but under her standard, shouldn't people who like Elmore Leonard and George RR Martin and Stephen King also be "ashamed" of themselves? It's not literary fiction, after all. In fact, maybe we should pull out the old "approved reading" list from high school, just so we make sure no one crosses the line from high to low brow. (Is Jonathan Tropper approved or not? Well, he makes you laugh, so better not read him ... just in case. Laughter is for the simple-minded.)

But my biggest beef is that this is Slate, the publication that features a series called "You're Doing It Wrong," designed solely to tell people they suck at doing things like eating watermelon.
 

The whole point of Slate is to condescend and take the contrary position. And yet somehow they managed to get us all fired up anyway.

So don't go read that article! It's just click bait.

Instead, read one of these:
Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (Holly Black)
Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)
Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)
My Life After Now (Jessica Verdi)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (E. Lockhart)
To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Stephanie Perkins)
Hemlock Grove (Brian McGreevy)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Carrie Ryan)
Looking for Alaska (John Green) 

They may be about kids and written for kids, but I promise, they're at least as good as The Da'Vinci Code.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Writers on writing

My CP Melanie Stanford tagged me in a "Writers on Writing" blog chain that asks writers about their different writing processes. So here we go.

What Are You Working On?
As I've mentioned before, I have a bad habit of starting many things but only finishing few of them. Right now I am revising a project called STARRY NIGHT (working title) about four friends who are going to prom. I am also drafting a new adult novel about a Congressman's daughter who finds herself in a scandal and has to revamp her image through community service. There's also a hot reporter, because duh, new adult.

I am also working on getting copyright permissions for an old project. (Shhh, more information on that one to come.)

What Makes Your Work Different?

I'm not sure this makes me different, per se, but what I want more than anything is to make readers laugh. Whether I'm writing a romance, contemporary, or that thriller that's been on the back burner for ages, my main goal is to make someone who is reading my book laugh in public. 

Why Do You Write What You Do?
Little known fact about me: I write mainstream and LDS fiction. When I was 12, I got my first Jack Weyland book and my mind was blown that there were books about Mormon kids. I tore through every book the LDS fiction market had to offer. Was there a lot of cheese? Oh my, yes. SO MUCH CHEESE. But I loved the idea of writing for a market that never sees themselves reflected in pop culture unless it's on South Park. (Not that I don't love South Park.)

So my goal with LDS fiction is to write something that is realistic (read: not cheesy), but still solidly PG rated. Trust me, if you have a gift for the potty mouth (which I do), it's a lot harder than it looks.

And then on the mainstream side of things? I just worry about writing a good story, and good stories about regular people usually involve swearing and sex and sometimes violence. But I still have a vague idea about what does and doesn't fly for me. I don't write gratuitous violence, mostly because it is almost never necessary, and also because I don't see the point of making the world (even a fictional part of the world) more depressing than it already is. And a full-blown, euphemisms-for-anatomical-parts sex scene? Not going to happen in one of my stories, I am afraid. (PG-13 references? That's fine.) And for the record, that rule is less about general prude-ishness, and more about being risk-averse. I personally find that 90% of the time, explicit sex scenes in fiction are more awkward than sexy, and those are odds I don't want to gamble on. FADE TO BLACK FOR THE WIN.

Gratuitous swearing, though? That's fine, as a long as it's funny. (See above, goal of making people laugh at inopportune moments.)

What's Your Writing Process?
I tend to write in bursts, like 4,000 words in a day. Then I can't help but tinker with those words, and then probably let a week go by when I can't think of what comes next. However, I have started a new trick that has helped immensely -- when I get stuck, I just leave a blank and skip to the next part where I know what happens. I'm a loose outliner, but I tend to pants beginnings and then go back and figure out what ought to happen.

Basically, my system isn't great, but it's the only one I've got ;)

Who am tagging to post next? Why, all of you lovely writers out there, of course.