As I’ve walked this writer’s path these last two years, I’ve been trying to find where I fit. My first book was not YA in that the characters weren’t in their teens. My second book was and wasn’t YA. It was traditional fantasy with a massive cast of characters who all took center stage as viewpoint characters at one point or another. My third book was decidedly not YA. I knew that going into it and I embraced that. I’d found where I belonged, I thought.
Then the current project came along and I’m pretty sure it can fall squarely in the YA category. I do plan on finishing it but I’m not entirely certain that it’s one I want to publish. It’s a realization I came to on Wednesday as I watched the beginnings of something unfold on Twitter.
A few weeks ago (I can’t remember how long it’s been), there was that article published in the Wall Street Journal about darkness in young adult literature. The vitriol that spewed forth onto Twitter and the internet in general disgusts me. It disgusted me then and it continued to do so on Wednesday. YA authors and those in the industry who took part vilified the author of that article when it hit the internet for the first time. They seemed to relish the opportunity to attack this one woman who dared to voice an opinion contrary to what is currently the loudest voice in YA.
Then on Wednesday they delighted in the opportunity to pounce on this author again when she and a YA author were both on a talk radio program. (There were other people, I think. I didn’t tune in for the reasons I’m discussing in this post.) I shut down Twitter. I couldn’t bear the vitriol spilling forth again against the article’s author.
Do I believe censorship is a good thing? Absolutely not. It’s not the industry’s job or the government’s job to protect my children (figuratively speaking since I’m not married) from things they might not be ready to handle or that would damage them more than help them. It’s my job as a parent (again figuratively). I have two nephews. I buy them books for their birthdays and for Christmas. Some day they’re going to be reading YA books and I know I’ll have to be more careful when purchasing.
Do I get that darker content in YA isn’t going to go away and that there might actually be a lot of kids who prefer that darker stuff? Absolutely.
Do either of these mean that I’m going to attack someone for voicing a differing opinion, for calling attention to a trend that simply means parents should be more diligent in being involved in and aware of their children’s lives? Absolutely not.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything written in the Wall Street Journal article. But I don’t agree with how it was handled by the YA community within the publishing industry. Earlier in this post I said that I might not necessarily try to get my current project published when it’s finished. The behavior of the YA community that I witnessed (major mob mentality) in the wake of the WSJ article and an article on Slate (though that one didn’t garner near as hateful a reaction as the WSJ one) have made me question whether the grass really is greener on the YA side of the fence.
Is this sort of behavior indicative of the entire YA community in the publishing industry? Perhaps not, but it does appear to be the most vocal. And that voice isn’t something I want to align myself with. It’s making me question many things about my writing and about where I want to go with both my writing career and any career I’m hoping to obtain in the publishing industry. (The latter is probably shot to bits with this post. If that’s the case, then it’s probably not an industry I want to join as a professional on that side of the fence and leads me to think I should stick with writing and maybe go the indie route.)