On Why I Write YA

Saturday, June 23, 2012

why I want to write YA

Beware, friends! This post is SERIOUS. And DARK. And yet so very, very TRUE.

As you surely know by now, my first book is in print. It's basically a grab bag of all the things I like: romance, magic, horses, fuzzy woodland animals, pretty clothes from long ago, adventures, submarines, sea monsters, ghosts, fancy jewelry. Although there's an overall theme of easy things are worth nothing, it's not meant to be deep, and it's clearly an indulgent sort of a read. An escape. Fluff.

But I'm not all fluff, kids.

Sang is not the darkest world in my head. My life now appears easy, but it's been a long fight to get here. One of my goals as an author is to publish YA books for and about teens, not only because I enjoy reading them and writing them, but also because I hope to find ways to connect with kids who might be having some of the same struggles that I did in high school.

I was a geek back when being called a geek was considered shameful. I was smart and shy and socially awkward, and I was bullied horribly in middle school. To this day, the smell inside a bus makes me sick to my stomach. Although I hit my stride in high school and found strong friendships and  mentors, there were dark patches that I mostly kept to myself. The only way I could cope was by writing poetry and painting, alone in my room. I still have all my poems in their original notebooks, along with song lyrics and quotes and things that made me feel connected to something, anything, when I was floundering. When I had no voice, I whispered to myself.

This blog? Isn't the kind of place I can share those experiences. The stories need to be told, but they're the sort of stories that can only be shared with real, live human beings, when you can look into their eyes and say, This happened to me. It might be happening to you. But it's going to be okay one day, if you just hang in there. Because just as I couldn't tell people about it then, I find it hard to speak about it now, to put things in print where someone could contest it or argue it or in any way lessen what occurred. 

You seemed so normal. 
You seemed happy. 
You got good grades. 
You never told anyone. 
You were fine.

When someone tells you their secrets, those are the wrong things to say, folks.

All around us, strangers are silently carrying burdens that we can't begin to understand. We pass on the sidewalk, share elevators, hold the door to the bookstore with a smile, and we have no idea what dragons are curled around the hearts of people we've never met, quietly squeezing or fanning a flame or waiting for the right moment to strike. I learned long ago that surviving is sometimes the best way to fight back, that living is the best revenge. But that's not enough.

My goal is that my words will one day be in the hands of kids like I used to be-- kids who need first an escape and second, the knowledge that the person who wrote them was a victim, too. That no matter what people do to you, if you can live past it and get stronger, you can kick a bunch of ass. That the pain, as they say, will one day be useful. That dark places breed fabulous monsters, and you can bridle them and ride them down whichever paths you choose.

Sometimes, when the worst finally happens-- that's when you realize you're free.

It gets better, y'all. I promise. I hope one day we'll get to trade stories.