4.04.2012

A to Z: Daring


Be daring, 
take on anything.  
Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, 
but only content will stay in his mind.
- Joyce Carol Oates

S.E. Sinkhorn over at Maybe Genius had a great post recently about Experimentation in Juvenile Literature.  The gist was that adults have certain set notions about what literature looks like, and if the thing they're reading doesn't fit into that mold, it's generally scoffed at as pretentious or strange.  But kids don't have these preconceived notions yet.  They're open to varied fonts, made up words, pictures, verse.  Writing YA gives you a bit more room to be a weirdo.  Which is great.

So I've been thinking about that in the context of Joyce Carol Oates' advice to be daring, to focus less on technique and more on content in one's writing.  I've been pondering ways I can stretch myself and my content.  Am I really reaching, taking full advantage of all that YA (and my brain) have to offer?  Or am I content to simply rehash the same old story with a few tweaks here and there?

So today I'm going to try and be more daring, to unleash my full creative energy into my work.  To push myself past the obvious and into the content that would really stick in someone's mind. 

Any good examples of this in things you've read?

One month.  26 posts.  A to Z.  (Don't know what I'm talking about?  Check out the Challenge here.)

10 comments:

  1. I totally agree. These days I do something daring with many of the things I write: I overcome my "This drivel is not good enough -- it's pure crap!" inner voice and actually submit the piece for publication.

    So far all that daring-do has gotten me is practice in surviving rejection, but, hey, it's gotta happen eventually. Some editor somewhere has to have poor enough taste to actually accept something I I've written, right? ;^)

    Love your post and your blog, jessica! Great job on the A-to-Z!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, you're farther than I am - and a hell of a lot farther than most people get! :) I have no doubt that your daring will pay off. (And good on you for ignoring that mean little voice - it's so hard to do.)

      Delete
  2. This echoes exactly what I found when typing up some notes last night:

    I’ve always tried to figure out the right way to do it. You know, you look at books and you try to make sure you’re doing it like everyone else.

    But that’s just stupid. All the best books have their own unique voice, their own rules. You start off reading them and you’re like, holy crap...

    It’s like kids making speeches at graduation. You know what they’re going to say, and you’ve heard it all before, but suddenly some kid comes up there and says something totally different. In rhythms and phrases and viewpoints no one else has. And you’re totally paying attention and you appreciate it.

    That’s all you have to do – be interesting. Be interesting enough that people want to hear more. That’s really the only rule.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE this. LOVE. "That's all you have to do - be interesting." I tell ya, you are so good at distilling things down. I ramble on in a blog post and you're like, "Yup. [Insert brilliant gem of wisdom here]." :)

      Delete
  3. The Oates quote was like a sucker punch to the gut. I'm literally catching my breath, here. Thanks, Jessica.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had the same reaction. Glad it hit home for you as well, Suze.

      Delete
  4. I think stretching your creative chops is difficult, especially when you've gotten into a particular pattern that you're comfortable in. However, taking creative squeegee and stretching can be a great thing. You could find something great that you weren't looking for.

    And if you think about it, aren't all stories derived from Star Wars? LOL Or maybe there was something about the Sam/Diane story (boy meets girl, boy tries to get girl, boy loses girl... etc)... Hmmm...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Star Wars, Episode 250,000. :)

      Delete
  5. I think I gotta put that quote up on my 'Stop being mean to yourself' wall of post-its. My inner editor is a mean mean woman.

    Excellent post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Amalie! I'd love to hear what other quotes you have up on that wall...

      Delete