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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2005 - 09:23 pm:   

Because the old thread is too long . . .

And one particular gripe, which is that I've been reading some YA novels recently, and the dialog in them sounds rather like a fifty-year-old writer's idea of what a fifteen-year-old's speech would sound like. The actual fifteen year olds I know are much, much smarter than that. And much more interesting.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Friday, April 22, 2005 - 03:22 am:   

I feel the same way about alot of YA out there, Dora. Fifteen year old narrators who sound like they grew up in the fifties or sixties instead of now. Which is fine, if the books are set in the fifties or sixties or whenever. But I think a lot of writers get out of touch with kids after a certain point. I know I did for a while, until I came to Japan and started teaching kids. I'd forgotten a lot of things about what it was like, I realized, until I was around them again.

You know what, though? A really good YA written in 1976 by Ursula Leguin called "Very Far Away From Anywhere Else" still rings true. The kids are smart and thoughtful, and still talk like kids. Kids from the seventies, but their essences are still true.

Also Andrea Siegel has a good novel out called "Like the Red Panda" which is YA but shelved in adult, with an unrelenting ending, and its narrator is far too smart for her own good. You should give that one a try.

The YA I dislike is the YA that treats teenagers like they're still kids. They're not. They're in an inbetween land, and it calls for a different subject matter and treatment than both adult fiction and children's fiction. But often YA authors tend to lean towards the child side of things. I think that's hedging their bets, and maybe trying to play it safe due to "outraged" parents who find their kids have a book with sex in it, or swearing, or whatever they've decided is outrageous at the moment. Which is too bad. That outrage usually spurs the kids to want to dig through those books even more than before.
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Alan Yee
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:45 am:   

"And one particular gripe, which is that I've been reading some YA novels recently, and the dialog in them sounds rather like a fifty-year-old writer's idea of what a fifteen-year-old's speech would sound like. The actual fifteen year olds I know are much, much smarter than that. And much more interesting."

I've agree with Dora. Some "YA" authors underestimate the intelligence of kids (some, I've noticed, write books that go on the assumption that kids and teens are all stupid). Hey, my friends and I have intelligent conversations and intellectual insights very frequently. I should note that most of my friends and I are in Honors classes, so I have no clue what the other "normal" level classes talk about. Kids -are- more intelligent and interesting than some people like to think.

"I think that's hedging their bets, and maybe trying to play it safe due to "outraged" parents who find their kids have a book with sex in it, or swearing, or whatever they've decided is outrageous at the moment."

I really don't get those parents who assume that their kids can't "handle" reading situations of an "adult" nature. If and when I have kids, I will let them read whatever suits them (unless, of course, they turn into underaged Satanic murderers). I'm NOT saying that I or any other kids/teens are the most mature beings on Earth; I'm just saying that their intellectual yearnings should be honored. I doubt that many kids would object to or be "influenced" by their music, movies, or books. I'd say that most kids influence themselves.

I know I'm probably going to start a flame-throwing war with what I've said. Feel free to say what you will.

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Alan Yee
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:54 am:   

Back to the thread's proper topic...

Dora, my question is, how long were you sending out stories before "The Rose in Twelve Petals" was accepted?

And my second question is, how do you find time to write, which I seem to have trouble doing? I haven't been able to think of anything to write since August or September, an amazingly long time of 7 or 8 months!

I just want some words of wisdom to help myself find something to write.

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Em Tersoff
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 06:16 pm:   

And one particular gripe, which is that I've been reading some YA novels recently, and the dialog in them sounds rather like a fifty-year-old writer's idea of what a fifteen-year-old's speech would sound like. The actual fifteen year olds I know are much, much smarter than that. And much more interesting.

*nods* Grown-ups are weird. The smart kids, I think, tend to notice when an author is talking down to them, and they either enjoy the book enough in spite of that to keep reading, or they put the book down.

My problem was always more one of getting in over my head. Kid and YA books tend to get grouped by age, which means that a kid who reads ahead of her grade level and is bored with easy books can end up with something she isn't prepared to deal with.... Not even talking about being scarred for life or anything like that, but I can't remember a time when I couldn't name at least a couple of books I had read that I knew were meant for older kids/adults, and that I didn't want my mom knowing I'd read. Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time probably fell into that category, though I don't really remember them (started in sixth grade, though, and read through as many as there were at the time by the middle of seventh grade).

As for questions.... Dora, remember I e-mailed you a while back about reading a story? I finally finished it, and wondered if you're still able/interested...? -Em
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Alan Yee
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 07:42 pm:   

I completely forgot to tell you, Dora! I ordered your chapbook in mid-March, and swiftly received it from Kelly and Gavin within a week. I know, I'm a little late, but I finally had the courage to order it (NOTE: had to wait because my personal budget was created in regards to the Alan Yee Books and Magazines Fund).

P.S. Please keep us updated with news on the Prime Books collection!
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Darja M-C
Posted on Friday, May 06, 2005 - 09:50 am:   

Dora,
Thanks for your responseóand sorry itís take so long to reply! I blame it on school. ;)

Iím also leaning towards teaching at a smaller liberal arts college if I decide to go the professorial route. I have heard it is possible to have fiction count as your requisite publications at some institutions, but thatís hearsay. Have you heard anything along those lines? And yes, I have been teaching my own classes, two sections. *whew* Youíre so right, itís definitely deadline-intensiveómore demanding than coursework sometimes. But I *do* have the summer off, as it turns out, so Iíll be like Gollum and the ring with my time the next couple months. Mine all mine all mine. ;)

You asked what Iím studyingóspeculative literature, actually, and feminist critical theory. The department Iím in has several professors who work with science fiction and a couple others in another program that work with horror, so they are quite open to spec lit generally. I actually started in Folklore, but when I found out I could study SF in English, I switched departments. Couldnít pass that up. What are you studying? Victorian?

Sounds like youíve had quite a busy couple years! It is enormously encouraging to see itósucceeding with fiction--can done despite schedule craziness, and more being piled on top (I do hope baby is doing betterÖ).

Best of luck with your dissertation. Oh, and I see youíre on the list for WisConómaybe Iíll see you there! Thanks again for your response.

--Darja

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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 09:46 pm:   

Hi Alan!

Dora, my question is, how long were you sending out stories before "The Rose in Twelve Petals" was accepted?

Hmmm. I didn't send out many stories before "Rose," because I knew that I needed to learn how to write stories first. Jeanne Cavellos at Odyssey taught me that--she's amazing at showing you exactly what's wrong with your writing. And I realized that mine needed quite a lot of work. "Rose" was the fourth story I wrote after Odyssey. The first was "Hyacinth," which is on my website. You can see, if you read it, the awkwardnesses--it shows you where I was coming from. It was actually written during Odyssey. Second was "The Tile Merchant's Garden," which won the SFWOE contest, and which you can also access through my website. Third came "The Wings of Meister Wilhelm," which was published more recently, in Polyphony 4, but it was extensively rewritten, so it's more skillfully done (I hope) than when I first wrote it. And fourth was "Rose." So if you look at those four stories, you can pretty much see how my writing developed when I was just starting out. This is way more information than you want, but in case anyone's interested in how one writer developed from story to story, that's the order in which it happened. And "Rose" wasn't actually submitted; it was bought at Clarion off the critique pile. Honestly, if Shawna McCarthy hadn't seen it there, I would never have had the courage to send it to her.

And my second question is, how do you find time to write, which I seem to have trouble doing? I haven't been able to think of anything to write since August or September, an amazingly long time of 7 or 8 months! I just want some words of wisdom to help myself find something to write.

Honestly, I don't, at the moment. Time to write is always stolen from other things. Mostly sleep . . . But not having ideas is another issue. I have so, so many ideas that they just about drive me crazy, wanting to be written. If you don't have an idea, read someone else's story and think about how you would have tackled the same theme! As in: Hey, I could do a werewolf story! Now, what kind of werewolf story would I write? That always seems to get me going . . . Or give yourself an assignment. Today, I will write a story about a changeling. Today, I will write a story in four sections, each from the perspective of a different character. Something like that.

If you REALLY can't think of anything to write, start writing a journal. And then put it online. That gives you the material (your life), but makes you treat it as a writer, shaping it, finding humor and maybe meaning.

Just to throw out a few ideas . . . :-)
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 09:52 pm:   

P.S. But you have to remember that when "Rose" was published, I had already been through college, law school, and an MA in English literature (which involved teaching grammar and composition). I had already had lots and lots of training in writing. Odyssey and Clarion built on those skills.

My general advice: I know that everyone wants to publish early, but it's more important to learn your craft.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 09:58 pm:   

Hi Em!

I'll try to email you tonight about the story.

And I had much the same experience, reading books that were probably too old for me. I still remember reading a very long book in sixth grade--one thousand pages!--called Angelique and the King. It was a torrid romance (the King was Louis XIV). Really quite torrid. But my mother paid no attention to what I was reading, as long as I was reading (we were one of those anomalous families who had no TV, which I probably already mentioned). I don't think it corrupted me too much! :-)

And I agree with everyone that teenagers are much more creative and intelligent than YA writers give them credit for.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 10:09 pm:   

Hi Darja!

(Can you tell I'm trying to answer everyone in turn? Sorry to be so obvious!)

Thanks for your responseóand sorry itís take so long to reply! I blame it on school. ;)

I have to say the same, although I don't have school to blame it on!

Iím also leaning towards teaching at a smaller liberal arts college if I decide to go the professorial route. I have heard it is possible to have fiction count as your requisite publications at some institutions, but thatís hearsay. Have you heard anything along those lines?

I haven't, but it's because I haven't been particularly good at researching the possibilities. My advistors, though, tell me that I can mix teaching literature and creative writing, particularly at a smaller school. Which would be a lot of fun.

And yes, I have been teaching my own classes, two sections. *whew* Youíre so right, itís definitely deadline-intensiveómore demanding than coursework sometimes. But I *do* have the summer off, as it turns out, so Iíll be like Gollum and the ring with my time the next couple months. Mine all mine all mine. ;)

Aren't summers off nice? A definite advantage of the academic system--as long as you're not teaching summer classes! I'm actually scheduled to teach again in the Fall, which I'm looking forward to.

You asked what Iím studyingóspeculative literature, actually, and feminist critical theory. The department Iím in has several professors who work with science fiction and a couple others in another program that work with horror, so they are quite open to spec lit generally. I actually started in Folklore, but when I found out I could study SF in English, I switched departments. Couldnít pass that up. What are you studying? Victorian?

That sounds fascinating. And I'm glad that you've found people to work with. It can be hard. Luckily, my department has someone who started working on Gothic around the time that I came in. I'm official studing Victorian literature, but I'm writing about Victorian Gothic--Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, Dorian Gray, that sort of thing, as well as Victorian anthropology.

Best of luck with your dissertation. Oh, and I see youíre on the list for WisConómaybe Iíll see you there!

If you're at Wiscon, come find me and say hello! I'll have to post my schedule--maybe that can be tomorrow's post . . .
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Alan Yee
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 05:17 pm:   

Thanks for the detailed response!

"My general advice: I know that everyone wants to publish early, but it's more important to learn your craft."

Dora, my post should have been worded more carefully: I'm NOT trying to publish early, so don't take my questions in the wrong direction. I -am- trying to learn my craft and as much as possible while I'm still hooked, so that I can attend Alpha, Clarion West, or even Odyssey one of these days.

I do notice, however, that writing on SF/F messageboards helps me craft sentences, which becomes extremely noticeable when I spend 30 minutes editing my posts. I also spend hours editing my essays for school, not sure if that counts at all since it's not fiction writing. Then I have the Critters Workshop I'm in, where my critical eye for others' writing helps my own stories.

P.S. I'm organizing a loooooooooong writing-spree this summer, accompanied by a looooooong reading-spree of novels, anthos, chapbooks, and mags. I'll be sure to keep busy!
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 09:45 pm:   

Hi Alan!

I wasn't at all thinking of you--it's just an impression I sometimes get from writers who are starting out. (In fact, you seem particularly dedicated to the craft, and to learning as much as you can--which is what I try to do as well! :-))

I do notice, however, that writing on SF/F messageboards helps me craft sentences, which becomes extremely noticeable when I spend 30 minutes editing my posts. I also spend hours editing my essays for school, not sure if that counts at all since it's not fiction writing.

My personal belief is that writing is writing--all writing you do will teach you about how to be a better writer. I learned a lot writing long legal contracts . . . And of course any editing helps too.

P.S. I'm organizing a loooooooooong writing-spree this summer, accompanied by a looooooong reading-spree of novels, anthos, chapbooks, and mags. I'll be sure to keep busy!

That sounds like fun!
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Alan Yee
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 08:22 am:   

I worked on some outlining for a story-in-progress today. I've decided that I'm the type of writer who has to outline and plan out details to start with, though the story always ends up significantly different from the outline.

My work at school has FINALLY come to the end-of-the-year projects point. I'm working through the last major peaks of the year.

No more questions for Dora as of now.
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Alan Yee
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 08:23 am:   

P.S. Thanks for the response despite your busy schedule!
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, June 13, 2005 - 08:47 pm:   

P.S. Thanks for the response despite your busy schedule!

Always my pleasure! Though lately I've been inexcusably tardy . . .

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