Monday, June 14, 2010

Age and imagination

First, if you're 7+ years-old and haven't watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, you're seriously missing out. (It's the Nickelodeon cartoon upon which the movie Airbender by M. Night Shyamalan is based, and it is so good.)

On to today's post!

I read on a writer's forum a lament about how many young novelists there are now--as in agented writers under 20--and how they're being greeted with so much enthusiasm. The person was concerned if s/he was "too old" to be writing YA.

I can understand this insecurity, but I don't know. Maybe I watched too much Miracle on 34th Street growing up. The imagination's ageless right?

To me, this is just another one of those sneaky things that'll psych you out as a writer.

And there's all kinds of things that do that. I almost psyched myself out the other day worrying about how much time I don't have for writing now that the summer break is upon us and the girls are with me nonstop.

If the concern is younger writers having more time to improve at the craft and build a bigger following, I guess they might. But if it's about keeping up with trends or slang proficiency, I think that's a mistake.

I like to imagine my books being read in 20 years (or more). So I want to be as neutral as possible in what my characters are saying or doing. Catch-phrases and technology change so fast, and publishing is sooo slooow....

But the imagination and good stories are ageless. Which is what makes writing such a wonderful craft when compared to crafts like acting. Or rock-n-roll musician-ing. Only don't tell Madonna that. Or Mick Jagger... Or Meryl Streep.

OK, there's also that way some people have of knowing how to give the market what it wants. I'm not sure if you can develop that or if you just have it. Like It.

Perhaps it's a matter of getting in the right mood. Maybe life's blocking your creative flow... If it's me, I plop down and watch some iCarly with the girls or jump over to the "Forever YA" blog. The author of that blog never fails to put me in a funny, YA mindset--especially when she goes on a Sweet Valley High rant.

I loved those books.

Then again, I just wrapped up a week with (awesome) teenage helpers at VBS.

That's another way to get plunged right back into those days of wanting to be an adult so badly and being freaked out by the whole idea at the same time. Oh, the self-consciousness! Oh, the desire to just blend! Oh, is that boy looking at me?!

Or read some good books in the genre. I try to really get to know my characters before I start writing. Just really get in their heads, and then relax and let them act.

Regardless, heed the experts and keep writing, writer friends~


Scarlett said...

I totally LOVED the Sweet Valley High books! Those were great reads as a pre-teen. I do imagine that the YA genre is rather difficult for those who are now out of that age bracket. My how soon we forget! Challenges are good for the soul, though.

LTM said...

Ahh... SVH. :o)
As far as writing YA, I don't really have a problem with getting in the mindset--har har! My problem is how far to take the action. I have to really think through my plot or things get... questionable. This is going to be the topic of my next post, so more on that Thurs~

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

I also loved the SVH books but today I look back at them and they were just a fun read, something to get lost in, nothing of extreme importance other than they made me feel welcome in my own skin as a teenager/tween and I was happy reading them. I would hope that as a children's author I am a fun personality but in reality I am shy, and quiet. On the other hand I do love good conversation. I really have to climb outside my shell and put myself out there in order to reach out to other authors. I have no idea if anything I publish will be seen as a literary work of art or if it will be just a fun read, something that makes the reader happy or full of life. I would love to be able to do both! I try to make huge goals, the kind that freak me out, otherwise, what's the point?

LTM said...

@APD--good stuff. Makes me think two things:
1-it's the quiet ones who tell the best stories b/c they listen.
2-the dream of creating something that will last/art is inescapable. I'd like to be a Dickins--a career writer/entertainer, able to make a living off my work. (Then, Oh! Lookie there! That one was pretty good~ ;o)

Ezmirelda said...

I love Avatar the last airbender. It's becoming a live action movie!I can't wait to see it. :)

LTM said...

wooo!!!! Us too, E! I've got a link to the official trailer in my post "Awesomeness & fishing." (May 13)