I know I’m doing the How To series for writing and since I’m working on it, I can’t help but think on whether or not my advice is even remotely useful. (I’d like to think some of it is.) And the reason that I wonder this is because I’ve read a *lot* of these types of articles and How To guides and sometimes I come away from thinking, “Wow, that girl/guy didn’t know ANYTHING.” Or at least, nothing that applied to me.
Recently I read a post that was going over reinvigorating your writing (I forget the bloggers name; I’ll try to go back and find it) and while I thought the post was basically good, I found myself feeling… blah about it. I didn’t like it. Not because I necessarily disagreed, but because I felt like he wasn’t offering me anything new, and more importantly, nothing that worked. Because I’d already tried it. (Okay, that’s a little harsh. It actually was decent advice, but I’ve tried some of those techniques and they don’t work for me. As a matter of fact, I think I tried every one that he listed – and I mostly thought they were bunk and didn’t help me.)
These were the same “suggestions” I got in my creative writing class. The same rules I stumbled blindly through in English. The same humdrum “expand your horizons into the exclusive high art world of writing”. And quite frankly, I’m sick of it.
I don’t want to “broaden my horizons” when it comes to writing. Why? Because I’ve already whittled and gotten down to the grit. I know what I like and what I’m good at (which are not necessarily the same thing). Enjoying my genre doesn’t mean I should change it up.
And I guess what really just irked me was the tip to “emulate other authors”. It’s hard to explain why this one set me off so badly, because it’s not a bad suggestion – just like branching out into other genres isn’t a bad suggestion. But let me try.
The class I was most excited for in college was Creative Fiction Writing. Hell, yes. What I’ve been waiting *years* for. And then I get there. Suddenly people are throwing things out there like “no genre writing” and “emulate these *all very similar to one another and very droll because they’re fancy smancy breaking edge * authors”. I was like, where’s the freedom? Where’s the creativity?
And, hell, where’s the writing?
Well, let me tell you that it came in the form of about 2-3 manuscripts (ours), a handful of short stories (no more than about 1200 words), and a bunch of reading other people’s junk. (There were some decent writers in my class… and a lot of really bad ones.) And if you think about it, when you’ve got a classroom of about 16 students (~) and you only meet once a week for three hours, then guess what: there’s not going to be a lot of time for writing assignments.
“But, it’s a fiction writing class!” you protest. To which I say sadly, “Yes, yes it is.”
I understand that there should be some reading involved in a writing class. You should check out how other authors write so that you get a feel for your own writing. But that class picked short stories (never novels) from a compilation book that seemed to want all of the authors to write in the exact same voice. That blaise “Oh, the world is so terrible, I’m numb to it all, see how deep I am because I’ve killed my baby in the bathtub” voice. To which I say, “Seriously?”
Because I don’t like reading that crap. And I don’t like writing it. And to get negative comments on *my* work simply because it wasn’t what others enjoyed reading while *I* had to deal with things like the above (seriously, dead baby in the bathtub was one of the manuscripts I had to read for class – it wasn’t optional), was utterly ridiculous. So what if I like to write paranormal? So what if I like YA instead of Adult?
Because that was the other half of the equation. Everyone had it in their heads that if you’re not writing “literature” (deep, soul searching, bs about how you shot the last proverbial pink elephant in Africa while on a mind safari with your best buddy ‘effing friend and his wife) then you’re not doing anything important. And you’re not writing anything good.
But YA is good. And it is important.
What, teens don’t read? Adults don’t like first person? People don’t need empathy or emotion in their lives? Please, list me some more reasons why YA is so poor in comparison to the gritty realism of the adult (Fifty Shades of Trash) world.
I’m not saying that every YA manuscript out there is earth shattering, but I am saying that there’s just as much trash – maybe more – in the adult books. To write off a whole genre just because you’re little narrow minded view can’t wrap its head around little things like a close first POV, humans capable of feeling love for more than one person at once, and the struggle of dealing with being a teenager in a world that treats you like a child but expects you to act like an adult – well, that’s just foolishness on your part, isn’t it?
So before anyone starts running their mouth about “real” literature or “cutting edge” writing, start looking at what people are reading, how amazing writing can be across the board, and how being prejudiced in writing makes you look to be an ass.
P.S. – I really hadn’t meant for that whole thing to turn into a rant, yet here we are.