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Monday, 2 February 2015

Why Write for Kids & Teens?

Writing for kids, ain't as simple as it sounds.Writt
As I get ready to launch my second book and first young adult novel, I am fielding a series of questions, that have been asked of me before. 

They go a little like this:

"Why do you stick with this kid stuff? You're pretty good, so why don't you step up your game and write for adults. You do realize there is a much bigger market for adult fiction? Are you too scared it will be too hard?"

Notice, how it is almost a stream of consciousness where the questioner can't imagine why I do what I do.

I find it strange and usually quite entertaining, how honest people feel they can be, when you are in the arts. 

Unless I am feeling a bit hormonal. Or over-tired. Or it's Wednesday.

Then I have an inner seething moment while I grit-smile and nod my head in rhythm to their great epiphany of how I should begin my writing career do-over. It is all I can do to restrain my fists of fury and punch them in the throat. 

Whoa, there! Before your shock-bulging eyes seriously gross me out, you have to admit there are some people you would like to punch in the throat. You probably don't have to think too hard to picture their face. Or their throat. If no one pops to mind, you are a saint, and all hale you. You are FANTASTIC. And you get a gold star for being the BEST. For the rest of us lowly scum, read on...

The thing is, I would NEVER come up to a teacher and say, "Hey, you know, you're pretty good at this math, maybe you should kick it up a notch, return to university and become an architect. Really go for the big leagues instead of sticking with this kid stuff."

And why? Because, teachers rock. Obviously. 

But also, and more importantly, what they do matters and it is much harder than it looks. 

I have examined them up close, and they are a talented, brave lot, who have alien-like amounts of patience. Just sayin' some kids are pretty darn rude. 

But not your kid. Your kid is perfection. A joy to teach. Never speaks out of turn or lips off. And has likely never burped the alphabet. Backwards. (At least not in your presence.) My offspring can do that while in a handstand, in both English and French. They are multi-talented, biligual rule breakers. 

So here's the deal with us writers of "kidlit"; whether that be picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or graphic novels. We don't write for this audience because it is easy. We write because that is what we are meant to do. The readers matter to us. Their lives, their hopes, their fears, their dreams matter to us in a way that may not be found in writers of adult fiction. Of course, I don't know that for sure, because my muse lies with the under 18 crowd. 

And who knows, maybe one day, I will take the leap into adulthood and write for grown ups.

But I sure hope it's not for a long, long time.

Writers, looking to get inspired? Readers, want more deets on this "kidslit" deal?

Please read this excerpt from Kate Messner's poem. Follow this link to read it in its entirety:

What Happened to Your Book Today
by Kate Messner (Copyright 2011)
"Somewhere, a teenager who thought she was alone
Opened your pages and discovered she’s not.
And somewhere, somebody who thought about giving up
will keep on trying,
keep on hoping.
Because of that book you wrote."

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