I’ve been sort of swallowed by a crisis in faith about my writing. I know we all go through them, so I thought I’d share (see, here I am sharing more than maybe I should, but oh well).
I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really suited to being a YA writer.
I’m strange. I started reading adult books when I was eight. I read Celery-Stalks at Midnight and then Starship Troopers (great book, sort of strange movie with major physics issues). I read Silverberg, Heinlein, Asimov, McCaffery, and for my ‘light reading’ I read Lackey. I read every Star Wars book (including the Han Solo set, quality literature there), the whole Conan series, and even parts of the Kane series (out of print, but one helluva ride). In my family, we would read everything, no matter how unfortunate the book—we had contests for who could find the most unfortunate passage, yeah, my family was weird. I blame my mother; she reads 20 novels a month. I don’t, for the record (I’m lucky to log 10 in a month).
I got to thinking about all of this because of the WSJ article that claimed there was too much darkness in YA. I started thinking about the young adult books I’d read, you know when I was a young adult, and: nothing. I didn’t read in that genre at all as a teenager. I think I read one book, and I don’t remember the title. It was about a vampire (surprise!) who made dreams come true if only the protag would give in to his will.
Right, one book. I just skipped the whole genre, I went from Encyclopedia Brown to Alan Dean Foster. I suppose a lot of Sci Fi/Fantasy of the time could have been considered YA, but there just wasn’t a market for it. Most of the people I read about were young, of course, but the writing was thick, and meant to appeal to adults. I’ve been reading a lot of YA more recently, and I think that I decided my work falls into that category because of the age and the type of story I wanted to tell.
So, now I’m wondering if all those books I read as a tween and a teen would now be considered YA. Many of them starred teenagers. They took on some pretty big topics, but that's pretty typical in YA. I've had ideas more appropriate for YA, and I've had ideas that definitely fall in the Adult category. Strangely, because the competition is so tough in YA right now, I feel like I’m supposed to be 100% committed to being a YA writer. The more I think that, the more I think that’s ridiculous. I’m me. I’ve never fit into categories, so why would I suddenly start to fit in with my writing?
I'm me, that'll just have to be enough.