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There is a tumblr full of Diana Wynne Jones memorials and I started writing this as a submission, and then it turned into a post.

I discovered Diana Wynne Jones with Year of the Griffin. It's a sequel, so it seems an odd starting place, but it worked well for me. When you're a kid, adults assume that you aren't as smart as they are just because you're younger. They look down on you, they use smaller words when they're talking to you, they pat you on the head--physically or metaphorically. When you're a bookish kid who has a big vocabulary and a fierce imagination, this can result in...difficulties.

The main characters in Year of the Griffin are in college, by my younger self's standards basically grown-up, but nearly all the adults talk down to them anyway. This creates...problems. But their desire to learn and their friendships allow them to keep growing, circumvent the adults, and solve some (okay, most) of the problems the adults think are unsolvable.

Finally, I had found characters with whom I had complete sympathy.

Better yet, this Diana Wynne Jones person had written lots of books! In each one, the plot was complicated and difficult to predict, and in each one I added new words to my vocabulary--in a very natural way, by encountering unfamiliar words when reading and garnering what context I could to figure out what they meant. They were clever and funny and magical and wise, books I could reread over and over. Some of them were books that I could tell I didn't quite understand yet, but that was okay; I had the other ones, and maybe eventually I could read them again and they'd make sense. (I get Crown of Dalemark now, but I am pretty sure I still don't understand Fire and Hemlock.)

And--well--I don't know what else to say. I said some of it last year. At least part of A Returning Power is responding to her work, and I'm sure bits of other stories I've written owe quite a lot to her too. To a certain extent? I don't think I'll ever stop saying things about Diana Wynne Jones.
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So I'm (re?)writing a short story. It started life as a first chapter written for my YA GLBTQ lit class last J-term; now I'm going back in, realizing it doesn't need to be a whole novel, and overhauling it into short-story form. (Longish short story, but still.)

(This may also have something to do with it--but hey, why not, and I've been meaning to do something with this idea, anyway.)

What's weird about this story is, okay, first off that it has no SF/F-y elements, but secondly and more importantly that it's set right here right now today. I have a bunch of early-teen characters, and all of them are at least vaguely geeky. All of them have accounts at a bunch of different websites: various blogs, Tumblr, Twitter. I'm having to get the cultural references right--research included currently-popular fandoms at fanfiction.net. I have to do the research, but this is really familiar ground for me. I know where to look, even if I don't know the particular details when I'm starting out.

Which is a complete change from a lot of my other stories which try to steer clear of particular here-now references, maybe a cell phone or two but largely that quote-unquote timeless stuff, things that won't change too much over the next few years or maybe in the next decade. It's weird to see how the story comes out, what changes and what stays the same.

...I don't know. Is making specific references a good or bad thing? Does it date a work, or enhance it? If I get one little bit wrong, will it throw people completely out of the story--more than if I just left it vague? Possibly there are no good answers.

(Either way, I think maybe I will try to keep some of this specificity when I slide back into genre, even if it's not what social networking sites my characters frequent. What people do on the Internet, at least in my corner of it, is something I know a lot about, so maybe I should make that level of know-how and detail my baseline for everything else.)

next steps?

Nov. 9th, 2010 09:50 pm
aamcnamara: (Default)
My body let me know this morning that it hasn't adjusted to the new time yet by waking me up at 4:45. (I then went back to sleep. For, um, an hour or so.)

I have just sort of resigned myself to not getting any writing done the first few days of each week. I always think "Well, I only have one class on Tuesdays--" and then there's work-study and homework and reading and physics research and a meeting with my advisor and the physics talk of the week, and True Colors, and here I am staring at nine-thirty again.

But the physics research is going well! I finally showed what I have so far to my advisor, who seems to think I am making good progress, so--yay!

On the other hand... class registration for next semester is this week. And I have been informed in no uncertain terms that the creative writing class I was so, so hoping to get into doesn't want me. Because I am not a senior. Not that I can come to the first class and if there's room I can be in there--which was the first offer, before I admitted to being a sophomore--but just that they don't let non-seniors into the class at all. Apparently because that would involve, like, actually judging people's writing or credentials or experience or something. Weird stuff like that. (And this is the college that's supposed to be anti-bureaucracy and -rules? I'd think you would throw out the seniority and keep the 'judging on merit' bit.)

You can probably see why I did not write any emails back to this professor after receiving the email today. Anything I could possibly say about this as a pedagogical theory would mostly be directed toward satisfying my own sense of justice.

Anyhow, that squashes my plans for "take creative writing next semester!" very neatly. No other colleges in the consortium are offering anything involving fiction writing at length, as far as I can tell. And while I know there are more things I could learn about writing novels from writing short stories, I would rather learn things about writing novels by, well, just writing the novels.

Overall this is saddening and frustrating, too. I just can't see why they will let me into writing classes suddenly when I am a senior... and still a physics major, any more than they will when I am a sophomore and a physics major. Or into writing for grad school, if I want to get an MFA for some reason (there are awesome programs out there!).

As well, I had been vaguely thinking of trying to study abroad somewhere with an awesome writing program--who knows if they will accept a sophomore (a physics major, an American) into their higher-level writing classes? I am tired of waiting until I get older, tired of the fact that even when I am older there will still be things that hold me back from getting to do the things I want. Tired of trying to think up ways to stick what wants to be a writing career into the cracks and crannies of a college life, of work-study, of every responsibility I have and hold, of my brain and my energy levels.

(I'm not quite going to run away and write novels, but I'd kind of like to.)

And, well, I am just tired, too. It's time for bed.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] sdn on facebook: Medallion to Publish YA Titles by YA Writers

They define 'YA' as 13-18. So if I revised this novel in the next two-or-so weeks and sent it in, I might be able to squeak by on a technicality. Maybe.

...unless anyone has a deeply compelling reason for why I should do that, I'm thinking I might pass on this one.

(I'm not eligible for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards any more, either. There's still the Dell Award, though! If I don't forget about it like I did last year.)

Sheesh. I have to be teenaged for another year, but apparently I don't get any of the benefits. Maybe I should write some angsty poetry before my birthday just in case 19-year-olds don't get a pass on that either. The world isn't fair, no one understands me?

I mean, I haven't seriously thought "I should get a novel published and then everyone will love me because I am young and brilliant (and I will be very rich)!" for, um, quite a while, but--I don't know, this summer makes me feel trapped and in stasis.

I want to be moving, doing something, accomplishing something[1]. I just don't know what, or how to do it.

---
Through yesterday:
272 / 350
---
[1] Other than "writing a novel" and "revising the novel I wrote last summer". Those don't count. Clearly. (Allow me my moment of self-pity, okay?)
aamcnamara: (Default)
(No, I still haven't written on the novel. That's my next task. People keep asking me good questions!)
(This is related to my previous post.)

[livejournal.com profile] mrissa asked me here about my strong identification as a teenager, and whether I thought it was personal or something generational.

I got a little off-topic--short answer: I think it's mostly personal--and it turned into an interesting introspective thing for me, so I'm posting it here and linking in a comment.

This is my answer.

I have always wanted to be taken as an equal by the people I look up to.

Part of that has been wanting to grow up, already, so that I can be an adult. But part of that is also knowing that I can't hurry time, and that people know I am young, and that I want to be a part of the community now. And I don't want to be a part of the community on false pretenses, even if I could get in that way, because that feels like lying, and to be a member of the community you have to tell the truth.

And it's all mixed up with the times when people have thought I'm stupid or lying because I'm a kid, and my righteous anger to show them that kids (and teens) are in fact smarter than you realize, sharper than you think, and will not let you off so easy this time. And with having chosen to go from homeschooling to school with my age-peers, rather than skipping grade after grade to find somewhere the academics were challenging, because I wanted to have friends.

In other words, I think it's probably a personal difference [between me and [livejournal.com profile] mrissa on this subject], but in any case, thanks for the opportunity to think about just why I have that strong belief. It'll be interesting to see what happens when I am not, in fact, a teenager any more. (If every generation does this, maybe I understand more about how older generations of fans act than I thought I did.)

[Related to [livejournal.com profile] shadesong's post: In general, though, I think that today's generation of fans can find more geeky friends--it's more okay to be geeky in a lot more places today, and there's also the Internet--which allows them to own their geek pride, but at the same time, there's no getting around the fact that they're teens; and sometimes the adult programming just doesn't give teens what they want. Often, perhaps.]
aamcnamara: (Default)
Since I know there are some teens out there somewhere--

Here's a link to a post by [livejournal.com profile] shadesong about "Fandom: The Next Generation".

Ironically, so far in this discussion, [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae and I are playing the role of the Token Teens. So I thought I'd get the link out so that any other teens who are in fandom could chime in, too. ([livejournal.com profile] mlt23, I am looking at you!) And, of course, anyone else, but especially teens, given the nature of the discussion.
aamcnamara: (Default)
1. I would totally read Tom Bombadil fanfic.

2. YA Panels at SFF Cons, How They Succeed and How They Fail )
I would be interested to hear opinions on this one. From people of any age, who have any range of interest in YA.

3. I need to start reading a lot more nonfiction.

4. Today is my official Day to Relax and Not See People. And, you know, keep working on the novel. (And slush.)

5.
37759 / 80000

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