Monday, 9 July 2012

a year in the ya world

It's been about a year since I started properly writing my first YA book. I'd written tonnes before that, and even the children's story that I am still working on (but more on that in a moment), but the idea I had in the months running up to the summer was the first thing when my brain went, this is a good story..... wait, it's about a sixteen year old girl.... how about teenage fiction? So in some ways it was the first time I ever considered writing for teenagers. Writing Young Adult fiction. Becoming interested specifically in that world. I know it is said that you write for yourself and all that, and that the audience doesn't matter so much (or something like that) but you have to have some sort of focus don't you? Anyway, I wrote this draft of this story, alongside doing the first major edit of my children's story. I hadn't properly read any recent young adult fiction. I love Harry Potter, I read Twilight (to my shame) and so I think I assumed (unfairly as many do) that it was full of sparkly vampires and annoying teenage girls. I think part of it is that as a teenager ya didn't really appeal to me, as it was then. There wasn't so much choice and somehow when I was that age, it may be relevant to others too, I felt like I wanted to be more grown up and read grown up books, not books for teenagers! I always felt like it wasn't the thing to be done, and I think it's changed so much just in the last few years. YA is more of a thing than it was then. I also didn't like that most of the books I picked up were about American teenagers. I wanted to read about British teenagers, like me, not ones who knew lots of boys and were drinking and going to parties because I did none of that. That was another world. SO I suppose that was another reason why it didn't appeal. Instead I read grown up books about adult worlds that I still didn't really understand, but hey ho. At least I was reading right? There was that whole thing when I was a teenager that you wanted to be grown up, but you didn't at the same time. It's probably something a lot of teenagers struggle with, it's such a horrible age. Anyway, I'm rambling. Where was I? Oh yes, I didn't really read ya when I was a teenager. I didn't shun it completely, but when I became an older teen there wasn't so much choice. Ironic that I now devour the stuff.

Anyway, back to this rather long winded story of last summer. I wrote this draft without reading any recent ya, but it was my first intended ya story. I finished it. I went back to uni.  I was already by this time following tonnes of ya authors on twitter because they were funny, interesting and brilliant, and I loved the insight to other writer's lives (my all time favourite author is well, dead and being able to connect with these wonderful authors is amazing). I then thought I should pick up their books. The first two I ordered were Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star and Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss. Oh man. I was in love at this point. I went to the library and got out stacks of ya books, knowing I had a lot of catching up to do. I'm still getting out stacks of ya books from the library. I followed blogs, I started this blog properly, suddenly having a proper focus and intention, instead of writing all these NaNo drafts which always seemed a bit aimless and not really focused. I never knew what I wanted to write. I wanted to write children's books, and had done for a while, but I was still writing the dreary nano drafts, and now I wanted to write for teenagers too. I Incorporated my ya reading and writing into my creative writing course that term, not ashamed any more of what I wanted to write. I was determined. I wrote another NaNo, another ya focused novel, and I flew through it, without struggling much. This was the focus I had been looking for clearly!

After that I started to edit that summer novel. I worked on it on and off for months. And it's still horrible. And I finally decided a few weeks/months ago to leave it. To let it rest. It's a story I really wanted to write, but somehow I dont' think I was ready. It was like that was my apprenticeship. I'd written all those other horrible stories over the years and this one was to join them. Bu tit helped me, with pace and story telling and structure and I loved it. I still want to write that story and I hope I will some day. Over this year I have written two more ya novel drafts. Both very different and exploring different kinds of worlds, and I think they were things I needed to write. For now I'm letting those drafts sit where they are, hidden on my computer, but I may come back to them in due course.

I am so glad that I become so immersed in this world. There are so many new authors I love and adore and I have so many new favourite books. i love this world. I have seen it said that is one of the most open and loving in the online book world and I totally agree. I have met so many wonderful people. I have been able to share so many wonderful things and I am totally sticking with it. I have been inspired and encouraged so much. I adore it. This was the writing community I was looking for and I'm definitely sticking with it.

But while doing all this, I have gone back to my children's novel I wrote and have been editing that. I have planned out the sequel and promised myself I would write it over the summer. I am doing that now, handwriting it, because that seems to be so much better for these stories and I love being able to hand write it, as I mentioned in a previous post. I have also planned another series I'm really excited about and have come up with so many details for it's insane. SO I'm excited about that. And for now that's the focus I think I want to make - writing for children, as opposed to YA. I say this, I'll probably have a brilliant idea next week and have to resist that! And I'll probably write a ya story for nano this year, because they're longer stories. I'm not quite sure what I was trying to say here. I think I wanted to say how I couldn't believe a year had passed since that time, and also that I'm glad to have a focus, and talk about what I've discovered over the past year and how wonderful it has been.


  1. I kinda know how you feel. I never intentionally said I was setting out to write YA, but it was what I found myself writing. I love YA books, and the majority of my shelves are full of them. I do like other books to, but YA seems to be where my heart is. I've written four first drafts since I started taking writing seriously a couple of years ago. The first two were terrible, they need a lot of work. But the other two are not that bad, and I love one enough to be putting myself through hour after hour of edits. I always think the first couple of drafts you write are sort of practise drafts, you're getting your feel of the genre and everything. Only after you've written those can you get into the swing of it and get something wonderful down on paper. Good luck with the drafts, and your editing :)

    1. It's weird how it happens isn't it? But kinda awesome I suppose. I think I was relieved to work out what I wanted to focus on. Yeah absoutely, I think a few terrible drafts have to be got out the way! All my nano drafts are evidence of that, eurgh. But I'm so glad I've done them all. And all the fanfic I wrote as a teenager - I'm so glad I did it. It's all about practice and learning. I agree so much. Thanks a lot :) xxx