When did you get so smart?
Yes, writing about you will help me but what I am supposed to do when the siren goes off and there’s no one in the seat next to me to bring me out of the spin before I crash?
No, don’t answer that.
Instead, tell me how it is that you can remember what all those lights and dials and meters mean on the dashboard of an airplane, you can calculate things like the weight of fuel and passengers and and baggage how it effects lift-off and landings, you can plot a long cross-country flight that will take you an entire day and 3 fuel stops, but you can’t remember to feed the dog?
Author who didn’t even know you had a dog
Dear Plant Kid,
Your voice changed. You’re no longer the thoughtful, introspective kid I’ve been writing about and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’m trying not to think about it but I can’t help it. I noticed it a little in the Teaser Tuesday post and now I am wondering if there’s a smart aleck trying to get out. Oh gosh I hope not. I can’t do smart aleck. Not for a whole book. And I don’t see a smart aleck as being the nature nurturing soul that I thought you were.
Maybe it will be different once you’ve finished composting.
If I work on your book I am saying that I trust myself enough to write a book that has no plot, no problem, no purpose with the hope that those needed pieces will appear by the time I reach the end. I don’t know if I trust you that much. I already know you don’t care. I already know that you don’t need me as much as I need you. And maybe that’s part of the problem. You don’t need me at all. Flyboy needs me. Frankie and Max need me. But, you’re so darn self-sufficient that you don’t need me or Mr. Mac or your sister or anyone. I don’t know how old you are but you’ve already got more control of your life than I can ever hope to find.
There are lots of things you don’t know but you don’t even care that you don’t know them.
Author who needs to be needed
At last, you have a NAME! I’m so happy. I’ve been wondering if it might be you but I’ve been a bit afraid of going back to your story. I mean, the stuff that happens to Max is bad enough but the stuff with your sister . . . <gulp> Even as backstory it’s not going to be pretty or fun. I’ve seen books written about the sort of thing that happened to your sister and I’ve seen books written about the sort of thing that happens to Max. How can I make it different?
Of course here is where I start to second guess myself. Maybe it is all going to be too icky and depressing and maybe people don’t want to read about that kind of stuff. Or not anymore. I can psych myself out by reading articles about too many depressing stories for kids today or why can’t there be any happy families in children’s books. The more I read those sorts of things the less I think anyone wants to hear about your story. And I can’t help but wonder if dark, hard hitting books with issues at the core, are they the kind of books that people reread again and again? I’m thinking maybe not.
I know you said you didn’t want to talk about it but you know we have to. Now is as good a time as any. Frankie, tell me about your sister.
Author stocking up on tissues
I think Flyboy will be there with you. (And us!) And the dog isn’t up in the plane, right? So he’s forgettable?
Sometimes, nature nurturing souls hurt. Can smart aleckness be a defense? And you can SO do smart aleckness. I’ve heard you! 🙂
Susan, I’m trying to write a different book because I THINK people want dark stories. Or some people do. Agents? Publishers? Kids? I don’t know! Can we do dark and at least balance the pain with the strength?
Becky, your support always perks me up. Thanks so much!
Smart aleckness as a defense, yes. It’s weird because I thought Frankie was going to be a smart aleck but he’s not. Arrgh!!!
Can we do dark and at least balance the pain with the strength?
I think that’s the key. Balance it with strength. Real life isn’t pretty and in my life there hasn’t been a lot of pretty lately so it is harder for me to imagine what I don’t know.
Whether people WANT them or not, I don’t know. But I know that dark, hard hitting stories are the ones that touch me the most. And in the end, that has to be what matters, especially if the books never sell and I’m my only audience. 🙂
Here’s my latest dilemna. And it feels like such a stupid one. I know the BAD thing has to happen to my MC, but I’m struggling to find a bad thing that isn’t trite, “always done” in dark YA. Something really specific to HER. Sounds like I need to talk with her some more. 🙂
And, yes, you have to write your story, no matter what “They” want.
Susan, re your letter to Frankie, sounds like you may be reading the wrong articles. I’d suggest picking up one of Katherine Paterson’s essay collections, maybe reading her on writing Bridge to Terabithia. That, of course, was some time ago, but I know she still gets people saying, why all the sadness. And I think her answer remains pretty much the same. Because that’s life.
Thanks for the reminder to pull those essays off the shelf. I think I’ll put them on the bedside table to reread this weekend.
I guess like anything else, you can find evidence to support whatever you want. Sometimes I stop reading most things because I don’t want to hear about the death of a genre or how a particular something has been overdone. I am very susceptible to suggestion, so I have to be careful.
“I can psych myself out by reading articles about too many depressing stories for kids today or why can’t there be any happy families in children’s books. The more I read those sorts of things the less I think anyone wants to hear about your story.”
The voices that know what we need to write are on the inside, not the outside.
I know you speak the truth. You seem to have such a good handle on what voices to listen to. Me, I cave in all the time to the voices outside, the publishing rags, the blogs, etc.
If I don’t read some of them, I feel cut off. If I read too much, I feel like I could just stop writing because my stories don’t fit anywhere. It’s a constant teeter totter for me.