A well-regarded children’s author on what “kids need to see” in books:
And who could really take issue with that? It seems reasonable enough. And not being a children’s author I have no opinion about what children’s authors believe “kids need” – kids are their audience after all.
Yet as I thought about it, something about that sentence bothered me. If that declaration may be made so definitively about what “needs” to be in youngsters’ books, one would think something similar may be asserted about books for everyone older than that. Indeed I have here and there seen that “need” raised about books for “oldsters” as well.
I loved Cas Blomberg’s post: “What do you like in a story?” She lists the sorts of things – her personal “likes” and “dislikes” – that should make any author think. As her take would apply to any reader, it is worth reading her post in full.
This “dislike” naturally grabbed my attention:
Difficult language — Victorian, Venusian, the Tyk’gkt’der language, etc.
“Victorian?” Uh, oh. Well, I’m not using “Victorian,” but I’m definitely employing what might be termed “Georgian” and “early American independence” – the later 1700s mostly – in Conventions.
I realized yesterday as I was thrashing around in one chapter in “1787,” I had opened with a journal entry, and that “first person” perspective helped better illuminate what happened immediately afterwards in the narrative. I’d stumbled on that approach by accident and it seemed to work. I may do more of it.
Or I may not. Or I may revise it. I’ll see how it goes in the months to come.
That post in which I included two 18th century paintings pretty much sums up my outlook on here. I enjoy posting a mix and mishmash of stuff. This blog’s supposed to be a “journal” that’s built on my writing, but I’ve discovered over these last three years that lots more touches on that than I’d originally thought.
That comment in 2014’s Frontiers stems from a “Madame de Staël” observation once made by a friend longer ago than I now care to remember. I recalled it while writing that novel and decided to fit it in not only because I liked it, but also because it well-reflected what I so enjoy: chatting with friends about whatever strikes us as interesting – particularly over a drink, or two, or…. uh, who’s counting.😉
Recently on About.me, a man who identified himself as a “ghostwriter” viewed my profile. I’m not in need of one of those. Nevertheless, it prompted me to think on what “ghostwriting” means in terms of you as “the author.”
“Ghostwriters” have always been around, of course. Bookstores and Amazon are awash with books written by someone other than “the author.” And we as readers don’t seem to mind.
Little new to report on my mother’s cancer. The hospice people come in and out of my parents’ house, checking on her, and offering what help and support they can. I don’t think I need to say that it is emotionally devastating to be able to do nothing but sit by and watch your mother – in a hospital bed positioned in her former dining room – so sick and slowly fading away before your eyes.
The best way I can describe how it feels to care for someone you know inevitably will die? It is a sense of being completely trapped. You know that no matter what you do, ultimately it will be futile.
Yes, sometimes there are smiles, but all you see ahead of you is darkness. Your days are spent knowing you will be clearing up urine again. Or you will try to get her to roll over on her side to avoid bedsores. Or you will slip the nebulizer mask over her nose to try to help her breathe a little easier. Or you hope she’ll eat something.
You look for a way to divert your thoughts when you can manage it. I happened to notice that my mother keeps some of my late grandfather’s books shelved in a lounge cabinet. He was an avid reader and had a wide collection I’d always admired. I have a few of his books already, but what I don’t have is the series of “great literature” that was beautifully hardback published in – wait for it – 1936:
Among the 20 volumes is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays. I had never read Emerson extensively, but find I spend the evenings with it. Reading works like those causes you as a writer to sit back and lament, “What could I possibly hope to write about anything that would even fractionally add to, or build upon, the likes of this?”
While sitting here in Pennsylvania, going back and forth to the hospital, trying somehow to deal with my mother’s deteriorating condition, we received another devastating blow: my uncle (my mother’s older brother), the novelist, died yesterday in Rhode Island.
He was 75. He was also my godfather. (Although, as I learned only in my early twenties, organized religion was not exactly his thing.) He had been in declining health for some time, yet somehow also seemed “indestructible.” His end came quickly and unexpectedly.
Following on from that post the other day on For Such a Time, I’ve read here and there about accusations of “racism,” “privilege,” and “Western cultural arrogance” in “romance” and “young adult” literature. That’s not an easy subject to address in a blog post. However, authoring as I do for adults (and not for children), I just wanted briefly to note my view. (Separately, I’ve already addressed the issue of an author spewing hatred while “hiding” behind his/her characters.)
Naturally, not every novel by every writer is going to be fantastic. Still it is chilling to read anything that even vaguely argues authors should be wary about exploring characters who aren’t much like themselves. That could lead, in itself, to writers becoming fearful of trying to create what could be some truly worthwhile literature.