Monday, September 17, 2012

September Theme: Misconceptions (Sarah Dooley)

"So, when do you think you'll start writing for grown-ups?"

I've gotten this question a few times from well-meaning friends and fellow writers. The implication is that authoring middle grade novels is preparation for some other type of writing, just like I suppose reading picture books is meant to prepare you for chapter books, and chapter books prepare you for middle grade, and middle grade for young adult, until you've left the realm of kid lit entirely.

As a kid, I read up. I was the youngest of three girls, and I read what my sisters read, so the books I chose were often meant for older kids. Time and again, I had to pester my sisters for help: "What's that word?" and "What's that mean?" and "Will you read it to me?"

At some point, though, I became stuck -- and happily so. I lingered in the world of novels for people younger than myself. Not that I never read books meant for grown-ups. I did, and do. But early on, I realized that my heart belonged to kid lit.

It's a good thing, too. Had I turned my back on books for youth after reaching a certain age, I would still have met Shiloh -- after all, I was young enough then. But I would have missed out on meeting Winn-Dixie, who came along after I was grown. I'd have met Harry Cat, but not Crookshanks. I'd have gotten to know Dicey Tillerman but never met Katniss Everdeen.

This isn't to say there's anything wrong with fiction for grown-ups, or even that I'll never write a book for a different age group. It is only in answer to the misconception that writing for children is nothing more than a place to start. I am quite happy remaining here indefinitely. It's an exciting world, and the company is excellent.

"So, when do you think you'll start writing for grown-ups?"

Probably about the same time I start reading primarily for grown-ups: Not any time soon.

5 comments:

  1. I so love this post.

    Do you think you could tell my wife this? (She's the main one asking when I'm going to write for grown-ups and start reading "serious" books)

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  2. Thank you, Sarah, for so wonderfully expressing exactly what's on my heart!

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  3. One of my favorite quotes about writing for children fits this post perfectly:

    “Sure, it’s simple writing for kids. Just as simple as bringing them up.” ~Ursula K. Le Guin

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  4. Love this, Sarah! I couldn't agree more.

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  5. Yes! Writing for kids is every bit as hard as writing for adults. Maybe tougher. (But don't we love the challenge?)

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