I am asking the questions today. You know, THE questions? Who am I as a writer? What am I? And, if i can’t figure that out, how am i ever supposed to target the right agent?
I wonder if I am really a YA author. Sometimes, when I look at the books that have come out of me so far, Brother Bewitched and Brain Biters, I shake my head and think– I don’t know that any teens would want to read this stuff.
In both books my characters are teens, and the stories are told through their eyes. I am not some adult lecturing them about their lives, or pounding them with cliches they are old enough to know are just things adults say to hide their lack of real wisdom.
But maybe my books are too cold? The characters not passionate enough? Maybe I am dealing with things in a way that is alien or foreign to younger readers?
Maybe I am just too weird for any normal teen to relate to?
I have to confess, I did not read a lot of the books aimed at YA readers when I was of the age. I wanted to be older and more serious, and so instead of reading Robert Cormier I read Stephen King. Now, I later read Robert Cormier, and I felt like I had really missed the boat not reading him earlier, but even as a YA kid I didn’t think I was a YA kid.
So, maybe my books will never sell well to YA readers (or anyone else). You know what? I am going to keep writing anyway. When I published my first book many years ago, (not YA and under a different pen name) I told myself I would be happy if one person read it and related. It ended up selling about 300 copies, and I waited anxiously day after day, hoping one of those readers would submit a review. Surely, one of them would be my reader, the one I imagined would read the book and know he or she wasn’t alone. Someone else felt and thought the same things!
Well, that very first review came, an d it was terrible. The person HATED my book, and they hated it so much they felt compelled to tell the WHOLE WORLD how much they hated it.
I felt destroyed, and for several days I moped around, thinking I would never write again. Then, something amazing happened: a second reviewer posted a review directly refuting the first, defending my little book and praising it.
I can’t tell you how great it felt, because this was my one reader, and not only had they related, but had related so strongly they felt angry when someone attacked our book.
Since then, I have gotten good and bad reviews, and weird reviews that made no sense. And as I reach the end of the essay, I realize that I still don’t know what kind of writer I am, or if my books are “really” YA books, as in really, really YA books.
But it doesn’t matter. I write and write, and someone out there gets enjoyment from my work, and feels less alone, and so I do, too!