For the first time, with “Sarscon 8,” I’ve written something that was easier upon the first draft – the act of putting raw thoughts and ideas to paper  – rather than the maneuvering of events and motivations to form something more cohesive as a whole. Usually, revisions delight me. But this story, and my struggling to find its core, has genuinely made me want to stop writing. Dramatic, yes, but the truth, and after six hours a day for weeks on this, trying to force it to work, I’m ready to be done with it.

However, I’ve gotten several excellent critiques on it, with a few more to come. Perhaps that will whip it into submittable shape. At least it has some shape already, a shape I believe can eventually work.

There was a disappointing article on young adult books by the Wall Street Journal, which has raised quite a fuss (you can find a good deal of it on Twitter with the hash tag #YASaves). Now, I understand the author’s point. I really do. And then when you add to the question, the age of your child, and how old is too young/old for YA, it grows even more complicated. But the Hunger Games books aren’t for a nine-year-old, unless your nine-year-old happens to be one that would understand the larger picture. I’ve met nine-year-olds that could read those books. But they’re the exception, as is the Hunger Games trilogy. The same is true for ten-year-olds, eleven-year-olds, and so on.

The real problem, in this case, is the ignorance of the parent in this article. You can’t just walk into a bookstore and expect to find something “good and wholesome and perfect for your child” on the shelf. You have to educate yourself on both your child and what’s out there. This woman walked in blindly, and what does she see? Lurid covers, in the Twilight era. Yes, because lurid sells. Is all the content lurid? Not all. Very little, in my reading experience (which is significant), although lurid in that much of it is poorly written, ludicrous and not worth reading. Just like ANY genre, for ANY age. Plus, factor in personal preferences, and you’ve got a situation you can’t just “walk into.”

Also, the direction the article takes is just ridiculous – Meghan Cox Gurdon simply doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  Not that I was around forty years ago to know what YA books were like, but eighteen years ago, hiding the V.C. Andrews & Danielle Steele books at the bottom of my 12-stack pile from the library, I checked out books like Madeleine Polland’s “To Kill a King,” where the main character’s family had been brutally massacred by a king, and so she set out to kill him herself, for revenge.  (Polland wrote several other intense books with violent events happening to the main character’s family.) Elizabeth Marie Pope’s “The Perilous Gard” was so powerful for me that I not only grew obsessed with the Tam Lin folk tale (who arguably, depending on your version, rapes and impregnates an innocent girl), but by the time I’d turned 28, I’d written an entire YA novel inspired by Pope’s vision of Tam Lin, which for me, is still the best retelling out there. (The Queen made people lose their MINDS.) Let’s not even get started on authors like Jane Yolen, who has written stories with violence and women and power that I will never forget. And there’s Elizabeth George Speare and hell, what about Lloyd Alexander, who invented zombies? (I know, loose interpretation…)

All that to say, Kyle Cassidey offers a rebuttal more factual than my personal experience. Also another on Npr.org, full of truth: kids are smart, and intuitive, and the world isn’t getting any brighter. And when I’m a parent and the world has changed even more, hopefully I’ll be able to teach my kid how to navigate through it.

Oh, and Mira Grant’s DEADLINE: holy shit. Seanan McGuire brings it. That is all I can say. I’m about half-through, and have been floored about 95% of the time (which is damn good). If you’ve read (and liked) FEED, go buy DEADLINE asap, especially if you’re a writer. It’s the most amazing lesson in how to send the reader into a tailspin, repeatedly.

I’m hoping above hope that the tension doesn’t let up, because I’ll be so sad.

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