Monday, October 31, 2011

The Authentic Teen Experience

A couple of months ago an editor critiqued my YA ms and said that a marriage proposal felt too mature for YA. My first reaction to this was complete annoyance. Partly because for my characters I felt it was a natural choice, but also because Perfect Chemistry, The Twilight Saga, The Shiver Trilogy, and The Lost Saint series, all have marriage proposals in them.

I returned home from the conference and discussed this issue at length with a friend. She said she thought they were looking for an "authentic teen experience" and that most teens aren't thinking about getting married. She said she'd had similar critiques in her writing just not regarding marriage proposals. This is when I went from being annoyed to pissed off (not at the friend, at the situation). Because am I writing a book about the majority of all teens, or am I writing a book two teens both orphans looking to build the family that was taken from them? As I'm flying to Texas for a 19 year old's wedding next week, I don't find a YA marriage proposal to be inauthentic.

But what makes me angry is who is an editor/agent to decide what's "authentic?" I turned 17 on 9/11/2001. I left for college on 1/14/02. I moved hours from anyone or anything I knew when I should have been a junior in high school. I was hazed for being one of the two youngest people there and for a rare sometimes medical condition. I met a lot of interesting people there too, including a couple of married teens and another married couple who were young adults when I met them, but married as teens. I met an 18 year old honor student with a four year old, and from what I understood of her situation his father was no longer in their lives. I bet all these people think their experiences were authentic. By the time my class graduated I'd been through a couple of heartbreaks, acted in some independent films, forced back to the town I spent my life trying to get out of and escaped again. It obviously wasn't the norm at the time, since I did all this before I should have graduated, but every moment of felt real.

My little brother moved out of my parents house and into an apartment across town at 16. His apartment was behind the home of a diabetic old lady and when dogs tore her trash open insulin needles were scattered in the driveway. My parents accused of him of being on drugs. In a very authentic fight with my step dad in front of his school, he was expelled and got a fine which he still finds authentic today. My husband graduated from an all boys high school without ever having gone on a date or even having a crush. I was his first love, and he met me at 24.

I must be lost, because I have no idea what the "norm" is. I don't know what the majority of teens think/don't think. I'm clueless as to what this "authentic teen experience" editors want is, and I must be a bad writer or just stupid because futhermore, I DON'T CARE!!!! I met a girl on page one. She was carefree and in total denial of her crush on the boy-next-door/former best-friend/ex-almost boyfriend. I had to follow her through a whole lot of pages and the only thing that mattered that whole time was what she thought and what he thought and how they related to each other.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thought For the Day

Before I get to the actual thought for the day I just want to say I'm sorry I'm not posting regularly, and even sorrier I'm not around much these days. Morning sickness is exhausting me and making just the work day hard to get through. I come home and almost fall asleep on the couch, eat dinner, and shortly after fall asleep for the night. The nausea got bad enough that I had to go on Zofran to keep food down which was accompanied by more fatigue and other side effects. All of this being said, I miss blogging. But I think I can't commit to more than once a week posts until ELF has arrived. If you could check me out on Fridays, there will probably be something new. That's my day off and Emil's day not off so it's a good day to post.

Now for the thought of the day.
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”
― Cyril Connolly

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Today is a good day for this post, because believe me I'm feeling insecure. I think I've recently came to the decision to self publish my YA novel Phantom Fires. It's so scary. Lots of people have read it by now. It's been through 7 rounds of revisions and 180 pages of cuts. About half of the people love it, and half want it to be something it's not.  I think it's pretty much a given half the reviews will love it, and half the reviews will hate it for not being something it's not. I guess the good thing is no one feels middle of the road about it? LOL I don't know.

I love my story. I worked hard on it and I'm not giving up on it. I think if I were willing to make some major plot changes I could go the traditional route. I've been told as much. But I'm not willing to. I'm not just not. If I do that, it's a different story. And I wrote the story I want to tell. I think if it isn't the story someone wants to read they can give me a one star review on goodreads and move on. That being said, with the stigma against self publishing, and the inability to reach bookstore and library markets it's still a terrifying thing. I hired a freelance editor because I just think a  professional should edit something before it's published. And before it's over, I'll hire a cover artist and a book formatter. It's not a small investment, and I'm okay with that because I love it. And I don't love being told what to write, but I just hope it goes over well.