Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Non-Conformist

It’s the eve of meteorological spring. Thank the good Lord for that. I feel positively Russian.

I didn’t write today, reading a few snippets of my book instead. When I wrote it, I didn’t intend for it to be a YA fantasy even though two of the main characters are 15. Upon consulting the ‘industry’ I was told that in order for my book to be YA it had to have this, that and that and in order for it to be considered ‘adult’ it shouldn’t have those or the other thing. The more I learn about markets and publishing the more I see that there’s a pervasive rigidity to the business. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?

I have more than one story going on that doesn’t fit neatly into the YA category, or any other category, or someone else’s view of how a book ought to be written. The question I have to answer is do I drastically alter what I have written to satisfy the market view? Must we comply? Confirm and conform?

Maybe I should change markets and go for the adults. Everyone else of importance in the book is an adult. But on the other hand everyone else being an adult shouldn’t preclude the book being read by teenagers. That's really a burner for me, the dictum that in order to be a YA book the main character has to be a teenager. Beyond elementary school I don’t recall there being books for my specific age bracket. There were books that had sex in them that we weren’t supposed to read (but did anyway), otherwise everything was fair game. I read Robert Heinlein, who didn’t write for teenagers. I read Stephen King. Mary Stewart. M. K. Wren. Anne McCaffrey. Tolkien might have written The Hobbit for children, but he didn’t write The Lord of the Rings for teens. The characters those authors wrote about were adults, but as a teenager I read them all. I wonder if that isn't as true now as it was then. When did we start categorizing to such a degree anyway?

I’m not exactly a rule-breaker by nature, but I don’t believe in too much conformity either. We, as different, individual people don’t fit into rigid categories. How can we expect our books to do the same?

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