Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are you sure it's young adult?

This is the question asked to me recently when I gave a quick summary of my WIP. Well, okay, I admit, what I actually gave the person was a laundry list of the things I am most worried about that are in my draft, namely: drugs, profanity, sexual innuendo (though no actual sex, at least not yet), lesbians, and grand theft auto.

Yes, I'm sure it's YA. And in my reading of current YA lit, it's actually pretty tame, even with all of that. The drug scene is really the edgiest thing in it, and even that doesn't really glorify the drug use, since my MC (that would be Main Character, non-writer-types) doesn't enjoy the experience much, and it leads him into a bunch of trouble. Plus it's "just" pot. One thing that makes me nervous about this, though, is that I know, in order for my story to go where it needs to go, it's not going to be the only scene like this in the book.

But the biggest thing that make me nervous about all of this is the people inside my head--like my mom, for one. Then all my students, but that's not as bad as...all my students' parents! My grandma, I can take her. Bring it on, Grandma! I'm ready for the fight. There would be one, too, just for the record. More than one, in fact.

OK, well, making a list here, it's not so bad, if I can just get rid of the voice of my mom and all the moms of anyone I have ever taught or will someday teach. There you go. Piece of cake, this writing stuff.

I know, I know, I have to just write it and not listen to the voices. (Well, except the ones that belong to my characters, but that was more about my crazy than you necessarily needed to know.) I have to write it and be confident and not worry about all those inner critics. Easier said than done, but it's coming out. And it's uncensored. And I love it. (When I get to the editing stage, probably not so much, but for now, wheeeee!!!!!) (And it's okay, it doesn't have as many parentheticals as my silly blog posts do.)

Still, there's fear. There's looking back over my shoulder. There's always a pen name. Ha!


grace said...

I used to have the "what would my mother think?" problem a lot.

and then I decided...

mom doesn't have to read my stuff if she doesn't like it.

and I will take her out to dinner with my royalties.

everybody wins. :)

cowpops said...

as a happy reader of your chapter-by-chapter writing, I have read many YA books (back when I used to read) and this is, well, nothing. Nothing compared to the stuff I've read. The gay thing is no problem, the drugs might be kinda big, but if he didn't like it I think it's okay. A sex scene would bring it down unless you summarize it matter-of-factly.

I might email you with more, but SRSLY, you are writing about a teenage boy. Realistically. Whose mom is less than perfect.

*won't say more*

I think you're in good shape, Ms. H.

CDP said...

Ignore the voices. I bet Judy Blume had the same problem back in the day. Remember "Forever"? Sex, suicide, drugs...and that was 30 or more years ago.

Hawkfeather said...

i say tune em all out and go with what you know.. sure i *say* that.. but do i live it.

In thinking about the y.a situation.. how about 'Catcher in the Rye'.. that is classic y.a and i tend to think it has been successful because it speaks to the *real* y.a.- your market is not what parents hope their children are like right?.. it is to the actual young people who might read it.

wishing you well with your book!
I have been doing illustrations for children's books and I love it to pieces.