Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weighing In on YA Saves

This article in the Wall Street Journal caused a firestorm in the YA world. A Twitter hashtag (#YAsaves) was quickly established to counter it and the blogosphere went crazy with responses. One of the most cogent was Sherman Alexie's which was also printed in the WSJ. Now the Huffington Post joins in, on the side of the original author with the emotional reasoning that parents have a right and responsibility to protect their kids.

I find this reasoning disingenuous for the most basic of reasons - no matter how you shelter them, teenagers are not children! Teens are transitioning into adulthood and should be helped along the road to maturity and independence. This means we must expose them to the world, help them understand the world, and give them the tools to make the judgments necessary for a healthy and mentally stable life. I can think of no better way to do this than by using literature.

The world is is a mixture of good and bad, light and dark, engrossing and banal, meaningful and pointless. The books our teens read should contain a similar mixture. Denying the dark because you find it disturbing is denying a part of the world that exists outside of our front doors. It is the parental equivalent of pulling the blankets over your head to make the scary thing go away.

Here is the hardest thing for a parent to admit (although denying it will not make it untrue) EVERY teen lies to their parents at some point. Many of them lie about really dark and horrible things. In my own case it was rape at age 14 that I lied about. I was raped by a boyfriend, the son of dear family friends, and I felt the consequences of telling were too great, so I never told my parents (or anyone for that matter until I met my future husband). At age 14, I could have really used a book that dealt honestly with the topic of date rape. I could have used the guidance and hope that such a book would have offered. My parents would not have wanted me to read such a book. They would have judged it too dark. They would have been wrong. As Sherman Alexie said, well meaning adults continually try to protect their children from the darkness that has already infected their lives.

Parents: if you REALLY want to do right by your teens, then let them choose the books they want to read and you read them too. Use the stories to start a dialogue with your kids. Discuss the conflicts raised by the stories. Examine the choices presented. LISTEN. This is how you can 'protect' your children from the big bad world - you can show them how to face it, deal with it and get over it! YA literature is one of your best resources for doing just that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eddie Louise, Writer, Bollocks Artiste

My work explores the relationship between the body and emotional memories.

With influences as diverse as Wittgenstein and Frida Kahlo, new combinations are crafted from both simple and complex layers.

Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of the human condition. What starts out as hope soon becomes debased into a hegemony of temptation, leaving only a sense of what could have been and the prospect of a new understanding.

As shifting phenomena become frozen through diligent and diverse practice, the viewer is left with an impression of the possibilities of our world.
My Artist Statement as Written by the Gurus at:

Monday, June 20, 2011

No Guts, No Glory!

Writing is one of the most individual pursuits you can undertake. You can join a writing group, participate in online communities, go to conferences, hang out in coffee shops and bookstores - but in the end the battle is a lonely one - you against the blank page.

Some days, the blank white screen seems to fill with words as if by magic. Others make you feel as if each word drains a bit more blood from your body, sapping your will to carry on. Writing is a constant challenge - and like Sysiphus, it matters not how well we did the day before, because each morning we are met anew with a blank page, and we must shoulder that rock and start pushing.

Yesterday, I had a scene that needed reworking. I had been avoiding it because I had already rewritten it twice and it just wasn't working. I went to my regular weekly writing group and did my damnedest to avoid that scene. I succeeded for nearly two hours - dragging my fellow writers into my own petty procrastination with witty conversation and distracting game playing. Finally, through subtle hints and kindly pressure, my fellow writers made it clear that they were done entertaining my insecurities and I had to face the scene.

Of course, to my mortification, the scene came easy.

It spooled out of my fingers like a fine silk scarf pours from the bureau drawer. I felt like a real ass for having avoided it so long. It was like I had finally worked up the courage to charge over the trench into the skirmish to discover that my buddies who had all gone over before me had ended the battle and there was no-one left to fight.

That is the last time I am the last man out of the foxhole!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Overshare - how to Avoid Being a Weiner

Here is a simple rule to avoid making an ass out of yourself over things you have sent/said/participated in on the internet:

ALWAYS REMEMBER: The internet is a giant Bulletin Board. Never post anything that you don't want a lot of people to see.

It is that easy. Yes, I know it is a bulletin board that is stuffed to overflowing like a flyposting board at the Edinburgh Fringe, but seriously, there are people who will grab a ladder and peel back the layers looking for stuff. So if you don't want it seen, keep it in your pants.

'Nuff said!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

36 Hour Editing Marathon - Call us the INSANE Hatters!

My writing group, (the Mad Hatters') decided to use this first weekend in June for a 36 hour editing marathon. The goal for each of us is to get our manuscripts whipped into shape for the deadline to receive a free proof copy that is part of the NaNoWriMo prize package.

 The proof copy is a bound and finished book - tangible proof for those, 'Yes, I did write a book, why do you ask?' moments. Like most of the Hatters' , I am under no delusions that the proof copy will be the 'finished' version. What I would like is for it to be the best I can make it at this time. Then, I will have a 'real' book in my hands that I can eventually (by end of July) read as I would read any novel. At that point, my plot holes, glaring mistakes and typos will leap out at me and allow me that one last chance to revise before I start the long road to querying agents.

So - 34 hours into the marathon I can report (with a self-satisfied grin) that I have done really well. I am now confident that I will be able to meet the June 30th deadline with a book that I am not totally embarrassed about. If I never succeed in getting published, at least I will have this one solid proof of the effort it takes to write a book. If I become a successful author, it will serve as the tangible proof that the journey started here. No matter what happens, I have a lot to be proud of!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

When Not Writing is Actually a Good Thing

A man I am very close to has this amazing way of controlling his dreams. When something happens that he doesn't like, or that isn't 'real', or that is just implausible his mental voice over-rides the dream and says 'Stop! That isn't how it goes.' His dreams then rewind and play out in the approved manner.

I sometimes envy this ability to 'will' things into behaving. I wish I had it, I wish I could use it in my writing; but I don't and I can't. My dreams and my stories are independently minded. They go where they want, say what they want, and ignore my feeble attempts to reign in their unruliness.

Sometimes this means I dream of being lost in the woods. Sometimes this means I get bogged down in the muck of editing and lose my way. Sometimes this means I need to wake up, to take a break, to change my focus.

I took a 4 day holiday over the long weekend, and didn't think of my book once! Well, OK, I thought about it - but I didn't write, I didn't edit, I didn't worry. I feel much better now. The woods of editing are still dark and tangled and filled with bogs and rhododendron hells; but now, I know the direction I am going and can see the path that leads out of the gloom into the light of a finished story.