1. “Race in YA Lit: Wake Up & Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin!” by Sarah Ockler
Ockler’s post is a bit long, but brilliant. I think she covers a lot of ground in this important discussion.
Can a black kid slay dragons without turning his quest into an anti-racism manifesto? Dragons can be dangerous. Maybe they need to be slayed, and maybe this kid is quick on his feet and handy with the magic sword… and he happens to be black. Can we see his unique and special worldview as a young black dragon slayer, or does he have to take a stand against bigotry too?
There’s so much I could add, so many fine points and nuances to examine. But my thoughts refuse to be wrangled into a succinct or coherent post. As the Magic 8 Ball would say, “Reply hazy. Try again later.”
We’re writers. Our only responsibility as far as I’m concerned is being honest and authentic in our work. But to be honest and authentic, we have to address this. We live in a diverse world.
2. “10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You” by Charles Wheelan
File this next to JK Rowling’s brilliant remarks to Harvard grads (about the benefits of failure and importance of imagination) and the inspiring advice Steve Jobs gave at Stanford (stay foolish, stay hungry).
3. Don’t make the world worse. I know that I’m supposed to tell you to aspire to great things. But I’m going to lower the bar here: Just don’t use your prodigious talents to mess things up. Too many smart people are doing that already. And if you really want to cause social mayhem, it helps to have an Ivy League degree. You are smart and motivated and creative. Everyone will tell you that you can change the world. They are right, but remember that “changing the world” also can include things like skirting financial regulations and selling unhealthy foods to increasingly obese children. I am not asking you to cure cancer. I am just asking you not to spread it.
3. “Humor/Truth” by Jon Peters
The more I write, the less I like supposed divisions between genres. I think good dramas are funny, just like good comedies are somewhat serious.
I agree. More, I think genres are labels, convenient little boxes that people put stories in to feel safe and tidy. And after all, we’ve got to organize our shelves somehow.
But the best stories defy categorization.
Here’s my advice: Don’t ham it up, but don’t dry it out either. Write honestly and see. I am a serious believer that if you find the life in the story, all of the necessary humor will follow.
Two words — “write honestly” — really struck me. Struck me so hard, in fact, that I had to make another desktop wallpaper.