Why I love reading YA and how you can love YA too

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I recently read an article about how young adult novels have a huge percentage of its readers being adults. Yes, full grown human beings that don’t get the entire summer off and try to eat healthy. This is a fact that I’m so excited about!

I am one of those adults and I’m prouder than proud to read young adult novels. YA, Young Adult, New Adult, Middle Grade, whatever you want to call it. I love it.

Have you ever seen the reaction of some other adult when you tell them you read YA? It’s almost like they slipped a piece of fatty meat into their mouth and while sloshing it around with their tongue bit into a giant piece of fat.

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There is this bias that if you’re an adult, you have to read “adult” novels. But why? I spend a lot of time reading novels written for adults and while a lot of them are really great, sometimes they can be so heavy (in the metaphorical sense).

Books have a tendency to take its toll on my soul. If I read too much of the “serious” stuff, I forget to be funny and goofy and a little bit silly. You’re just a shell of a human that knows too much about what’s going on in the real world and little about having fun.

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When something weighs down on you like that, then you need something to lift you up and for me, I read YA. It’s not a guilty pleasure. It’s not some big secret. Young adult novels have just as much validity as any other novel you read. Someone took time to write that story and maybe it is focused towards a younger generation, but the message is something that anyone can understand.

Young adult novels are uplifting and soulful and really engage their readers in a story that make you feel like a kid again or like a young warrior, or a traveler through time. They’re just as good as an adult novel, but they’re so overlooked by adults sometimes.

Perhaps it has something to do with knowing what to read. So I decided to put together a quick list for any adult who would like to get into YA.

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Start with the knowns. There’s a bunch of books out there that have recently been turned into movies. The Divergent Series, The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games, Everything, Everything.

All of these great movies you’ve seen come out recently are all based on YA novels. If you’re interested in getting started with a good YA, start with those. They’re good enough to be made into movies.

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Get out of your head. Probably the worst thing you can do when starting a YA novel is treating it like an adult novel. Don’t. Do. That.

If you want to enjoy the novel, then you need to go into it with an open mind. Don’t roll  your eyes at the young couple who falls in love. Don’t think the novel is trite (unless other bookish folks say it is).

Keep your mind open and focus your energy on the story, not the subtext.

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Recall what it was like to be a kid. Because these novels are geared towards teenagers, remember what it was like to be a kid in their position. Now, take that feeling and then continue to read.

Some novels will surprise you especially when the novel has some political themes. Oh yes, YA novels cover political topics like the #blacklivesmatter movement.

They talk about sexual assault, divorce, heartbreak, bullying, sexual identity, and so many more things that unsurprisingly children go through every single day.

Take that feeling you had as a kid and apply to all of these situations. Can you handle it? Maybe, but these kids in these books are able to.

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It’s just a book! This is the last thing I’m going to say and then I’m going to shut up. YA is just a book. Like any other book, it’s just a book.

You don’t have to love it, but you don’t have to hate it either. If you walk away from reading a YA novel and you didn’t like it, then that’s fine!

But the next time you see an adult who happily is toting around a Morgan Matson novel, don’t scoff. The worst thing you can do to a reader is shame them for liking something they love.

Respect is the big key here and while I know I don’t have to say this to all the lovable people in the book-verse, we’re all here to support the bigger concept; to read more.

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How I failed NaNoWriMo

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There are no excuses.

There are no excuses at all.

But I failed regardless.

I knew going into NaNoWriMo this year that my efforts in writing a novel would be fruitless. I assumed I’d make some good headway, but definitely no where near the end of the story. Sadly, I ended this month with the same amount of words I had when I started. 5000 words.

While I tried to convince myself that this is fine, I can’t still help but to feel a sense of failure. Failure in not pursuing my dreams. Failure to allow myself to be happy with the progress I made. Failure to give myself time to actually write. Failure to let my job be the main rotating point in my life at all times.

Maybe my life is much busier than I assumed it was, but I couldn’t for the life of me sit down and finish the rest of it. I’m honestly having difficulty with writing this post.

If I could grasp at any ideas of what may have happened, I think that I ended up at a roadblock and couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. The ultimate plot line of the book was supposed to be a romantic one, but I slowly found myself tying in commentary on diversity. While I do want my book to be diverse (me being a diverse human), I wanted it to be more about the decisions we make when we’re young and how ultimately those decisions shape our lives.

When I saw my fingers fly across the screen and the story starting to change, something in me took a step back. I couldn’t write this. This wasn’t my story. This is going in a different direction and I wasn’t prepared.

And somehow that road block put me on a writer’s block because I didn’t know how to escape it. I told myself that I would just follow the story, continue moving and flowing and dealing with the repercussions later, but maybe my tired ass old person brain just said no.

I know it’ll take me a few days to recover from not being able to complete the task, but something that I won’t forget and will not let myself forget is that there’s a story waiting to be told. It may take me a little bit longer than 30 days to write it, but I know it’ll happen and I’ll know that all my fruits won’t be for any less.

 

NaNoWriMo 2016 Update – Push

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I’m at 8,196 words right now. According to my NaNoWriMo tracker, I should be finished with my book by February. But even going against that number, I don’t feel in any way good about the progress that I’ve been making. And truly, it’s my own fault. I’ve stopped writing.

I’ve got no excuses. My day job is kind of taking over anything else I want to do. I come home exhausted. My journaling is just me whining about how unhappy I’m currently.

The biggest struggle is that I thought I had this story down. I thought I knew exactly what I was going to write about and then I started writing and the story somehow seemed to evolve on me. Suddenly, the path is shifting and I need to make the decision and quickly to take the new path set out for me. This isn’t easy.

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However, I see a point to the writing that I’m doing. My story isn’t controversial, but it plays on some diversity themes. I’m not trying to be political, but in a world where the next four years of American history are about to be written, I feel that I have something to say and I can say it through writing. Even if I only reach one person, I can feel good about it.

I’ve emphasized time and time again how important it is to read and learn and educate yourself about people in the world. Not to play the bad guy here, but we all live in a bubble. We only know what we know and we should want to know more. I’m not going to say that we all need to go out and see what’s happening in Africa, but we need to open our minds to books and reading. We need to take a book we’ve read and find meaning within it. How did the book affect you? What are the themes that really made you think?

It’s funny that I ask myself these questions now almost 13 years out of high school. It’s like the lessons I learned when I was a kid were designed to make me think a little bit deeper about the stories that I was reading. Weird, huh?

Anyway, I’ve got to let my story take me where it wants to go. I have to push myself to continue writing because I believe my story says something. It says something to me.