Writerly Tuesday

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.



11 responses to “Writerly Tuesday”

  1. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    Good links! I tweeted the first one after having read it, but forgot to link to your blog. I love the desktop. I’ve been feeling really burned out lately, even the writing’s not been going so well. Nice to be reminded…

  2. Ben Avatar

    That post by Sarah Ockler is pretty much the best thing I’ve read in weeks. It says so much of what I’ve always thought, but haven’t taken the time to articulate. Yes!

  3. Sonje Avatar

    I agree about genre. I like to think that in the series I wrote, while I intended to write a pretty straight forward, hard boiled detective novel, it became a bunch of different things/genre because the story didn’t want to be just one thing. Write the story. Don’t worry about the rest of it.

  4. Mieke Zamora-Mackay Avatar

    Write honestly! I love that. Can I “pin” the wallpaper you made?

  5. Shari Avatar

    I ADORE that wallpaper! I just ordered a MacBook this morning (my bank account … sigh) and will be using that as my inaugural background when it arrives next week. :)

    Also – the advice to grads piece is positively brilliant. I think we could all use those reminders, no matter what point we’re at or how old we are.

  6. linda Avatar

    Thanks for the great links! Love the wallpaper. :)

  7. Anthony Lee Collins Avatar

    I saw an interview with Jennifer Aniston once where she was asked about future projects in terms of how many “dramas” and how many “comedies” she was going to be doing, and she said, “You know, those are just categories of movies. Life doesn’t divide up into ‘comedy’ and ‘drama.’” (quoted from memory)

    The Sarah Ockler post was really good (and obviously doesn’t just apply to YA — though the “it’s supposed to be good for you and teach you a lesson” thing is something that applies mostly to YA).

  8. Kristan Avatar

    No worries. I’m glad you enjoyed the link! And yeah, based on your tweets it seems like the day job has been a grind for you lately. I wouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself about the writing. Make sure to relax, get in some Me Time. The writing will come. :)


    I agree, your story isn’t “just” a detective story, or a lesbian story, or a romance, etc. I loved the mish-mash — it didn’t feel messy, it just felt right. :)

    Aw thanks! Of course, I’d be honored!

    WOOHOO MacBook! (Your bank account will be mad initially, but then it will forgive.)

    Thanks. :)

    LOVE that Aniston quote. Thanks for sharing it!

  9. Krispy Avatar

    Thank you for such a lovely, inspirational post! I also love the wallpaper. I’ll have to put that one up during writing sessions. :)

    BTW, thanks for the comment on my long-o Hunger Games movie post a while ago. Glad to hear some similar views!

  10. Carol Avatar

    This post is another thing that other people will gonna talk about. I love this so much !