Journal

May 2018 Wrap-Up

Writing:

After I turned in my novel, I took a three week vacation. It wasn’t really a choice (scheduling issue), but it happened to come at the perfect time. I spent most of that time at home sewing, and playing toddler herder.

The time between projects or drafts always feels really odd. I was so worded out that I couldn’t even stand to look at books. But by the end of the three weeks, I turned in another minor revision of the novel and my brain was spitting out new ideas. That’s usually a good sign that I’ve rested up enough to move on to the next thing/stage.

Know thyselves, writers. Whatever your process is, whatever you need, respect it and don’t be ashamed of it. I need a hard stop from time to time, but I always come back to the words because creating is still my happy place.

Mulling Over: 

I’ve been chewing over some well meaning, but cringe worthy  comments I’ve gotten when I’ve told other writers I’m writing YA novels. And it’s not that they’re completely wrong, but that they’re reductive statements that I worry that people take at face value.

1) You have to be politically correct when you’re writing YA:

Political correctness isn’t at all the goal, though the end result might look like it. Lately there’s been push back on representation done badly, but the reason is to protect kids from damaging narratives (or even kill a kid’s love of reading). This is not the same thing as political correctness.

And diverse writers are not a monolith. They have different experiences/worldviews that frequently do not agree with one another. There’s no single experience, and to reduce their work to only perfect characters a) Doesn’t reflect reality b) Is limiting c) Who gets to decide what is correct?

Moreover, teens these days have more language about gender and sexuality, than many of us did growing up, and I think that’s wonderful! I wish I could have had the words to express myself and have an easier time coming to terms with my identity. As YA writers these are all things we need to learn and be aware of, because they’re relevant to our audience.

There are still too many many harmful books being published, but if you really care about the people you’re writing for, I hope that you do your best not to purposefully do harm.

2) Diversity is so hot right now!

First off, I’m SO glad there’s more awareness these days and that diverse books keep hitting the bestsellers lists.  #WeNeedDiverseBooks has done a ton of work to champion the need for diversity in publishing, but if you look at the 2018 Lee and Low Diversity Report, the numbers are still pretty dismal.  Most books written about diverse/marginalized people, are not written by diverse/marginalized people.  Yes I’ve seen agents and editors asking for diverse stories on social media, but if you look at the people they actually sign, and the books that actually get published, it tells a different story. Unless there’s diversity up the chain (agents, editors, marketing, sales) we’ll just get the same stories with more colorful casts. This is nice, but it’s not meaningful change.

Diversity is not a trend. It’s the reality of the world, and publishing has a long way to go to start reflecting it.

And I’m not angry or mad about either of these things. I’m hopeful, because there are people working for change, and authors who really care about their audiences, and there are a so many people out there starving for stories that they can identify with.

Reading:

    • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
    • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    • The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
    • Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

11 Comments

  1. My hats off to you! “Turned in my novel”… That’s HUUUUUUGGGEEE.

    God, myself, I’ve been so sick (literally) and tired (literally) over the past few years… I’ve this persistent fear I’ll never finish my first novel, much less get the point where I’m “turning it in”.

    But I’m so happy for you to see you getting to this point. Jealous, heh, but happy for you. Wishing you all the best luck!

    Reply
    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      It feels super odd to me too. I keep thinking there must be more work I have to do on it! But nope! At least not for a while.

      I really hope you do finish your novel one day, and if you do please let me know because I’d love to read it (even if you don’t plan to publish it).

      Thanks Stephen!

      Reply
  2. Yay for revision progress! ^_^

    God, I honestly don’t even know what to make about this whole “diversity” thing right now… You’re right: it truly does come across as a trend right now and not the meaningful “change” I think a lot of people have been looking for. (Not for all novels, just in general.) It’s all too easy for POC to feel like another piece of the set design, so to speak. “Gotta meet that quota/check that one off the list!” At the same time, I wouldn’t want to read fiction that feels like it’s trying too hard to beat an ethnocentric message into the heads of its readers.

    For what it’s worth, I feel like writing diversity that’s well-integrated into a story without veering too far in either direction is pretty difficult to pull off. Personally, I just want to read about characters who have interesting situations that I can relate to. The world is much bigger than any given ethnic or minority group–and, to me, that’s the most important point of “diversity” in storytelling. On the surface, it may look like it’s all about The [insert Choice Minority Group] Struggle, but ultimately, I feel that the best stories are really about being human.

    Reply
      1. T. S. Bazelli Author

        Man, it just really bugs me that people think POC/Minorities are having an easy time getting published now, when it’s not true. Maybe a tiny bit better, but the numbers are still really really low.

  3. Oh man, all the “ish” around YA respectability, and diversity, can really get you wound up if you let it. I try to keep my ear to the ground so I know what’s up in the community, but also (especially now as a mom!) I try not to let it take up too much time or mental space. The older I get, the more I realize I need to focus on my own work and not on the industry. I mean, it’s a balance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean 50/50.

    Reply
      1. Since Harry Potter and Hunger Games were so wildly successful – I don’t get why YA still gets a bum wrap as a genre. Makes no sense. It’s rare for ADULT fiction to rise to the same level. If anything, YA should be considered a premium genre, after so many hot YA hits.

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