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A Love Letter to Young Adult Fiction (+ an exciting announcement!)

HELLO READERS AND SUBSCRIBERS! I'm least for now!!!!! I apologize for my hiatus- but in my quest for peace of mind and in my commitment to self care, I let myself cut back on the regular blog posts when they started becoming more stress-inducing than stress-relieving.

But at this moment, I'm back to share some exciting news- I'M BEING PUBLISHED! And not just by myself on the internet!

Z Publishing, a new publishing house that began as a blog (dare I this one?) and now specializes in anthologies (learn more about the company here), is publishing one of my essays, "Isolated" (featured in a previous blog post), in a book, "California's Emerging Writers: Non-Fiction." It's part of their country-wide emerging writers series, which is very exciting!

But even more exciting, Z Publishing is also publishing one of my short stories, titled "Behind the High School Football Field," in the "California's Emerging Writers" Fiction book! This is especially exciting because as you may or may not know, I've always felt a little less confident with my fiction writing than with my non-fiction and playwriting- I'm proud to have challenged myself and been rewarded for it! And also- this story has never been published ANYWHERE before, so you can only read it by buying the book!!!! Don't worry, it's a win all around- you'll get to support my writing, while also supporting a cool publishing company and introducing yourself to new, upcoming writers.

Also thrilling- the short story is a YOUNG ADULT short story. As you will read in the post below, I think the young adult genre is perhaps the most important literary genre of the modern era, and I've always wanted to contribute to the revolution. On their submissions page, Z Publishing mentioned that they were specifically interested in Young Adult pieces- I'm grateful they are as committed to supporting this invaluable genre as I am.Thanks, Z Publishing, for giving me the chance to speak to the next generation and to revisit my own adolescent self!

The Fiction book is available for pre-order now, and if you purchase through my unique link below, I will get $4 from the sale!

So why should you buy this book from this company that supports the YA genre, and by extension show your own support for the genre?

Read on to find out

I have, on more than one occasion, found myself in heated arguments with (usually male) people about why Young Adult fiction is just as valuable and "literary" as adult "literature" (read "adult literature" as, usually, the homogeneous parade of incessantly intellectual, quickly dated, and borderline-to-blatantly misogynistic white male words that have been determined by our school systems and by the male people as "canon," and as inherently "good" literature, simply because those particular words are the ones that resonated the most with the loudest and most historically influential population of this country).

But I don't think I believe my argument anymore. I don't think I believe that YA fiction is of equal value to adult fiction.

I think maybe YA fiction is more important than this nebulous thing we call "literature."

The books that shaped me the most growing up as a young feminist were not The Grapes of Wrath or Moby-Dick. The authors that helped me find my voice as both a writer and as a woman were certainly not Ernest Hemingway or Mark Twain. In fact, reading The Lord of the Flies and Of Mice and Men in high school left me with nothing but a distinct feeling that I apparently had no place in the literary canon. After all, what did I learn about women from these books, besides the fact that they might as well not exist, unless of course the woman is a sexy stupid wife who gets killed at the end?

But in Madaline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, not only did I have a place, but I played the most important of roles. Suddenly, the story was about me- me as I saw me, from the inside, rather than the me our male-driven world was telling me I should be. In L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, I learned that I could be apologetically smart, and endlessly imaginative. In Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted, I suddenly recognized the curse of obedience the world was trying to place on me, and on all women, and I began to understand what it might mean to embrace my own feminine power. In Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, that power surged forth uncontrollably, and mixed with a budding sexuality that was not confined to what a farm owner with a Vaseline-softened hand could do to me, but rather what I could do to - and for - myself. In Diana Wynn Jones' Hexwood, I discovered, with great relief, that I didn't have to be what society arbitrarily considered "beautiful" in order to feel loved and enjoy that sexuality.

But tell me more about how men shuffling around in the dirt expresses more about the human experience than these books do.

Calling F. Scott Fitzgerald and Cormac McCarthy the "Great American Novelists," and their respective books the "Great American Novels" is leaving out a whole lot of America. Calling a book about an island populated only by male children a "microcosm of humankind" is forgetting about a whole lot of humans. These men may have represented someone's America, but it isn't mine. It isn't ours. It isn't the American experienced by the fourteen-year-old girl who has to walk to fourth period with an ugly sweater tied around waist because her pad leaked and she got blood on her shorts, or the sixteen-year-old girl who cries because the boys call her fat, or the seventeen-year-old girl who thinks she is ruined because she's had sex with her boyfriend. These classics, wrapped up in their allegories and their hyper-extended metaphors and their overly intellectual titles, get lose in their delusions of grandeur, in their clear declarations of: "I have something important to say, listen to me!"

YA authors, on the other hand, whether male or female, are not opening up their Word Documents or pulling out their notebooks and pens with the intention of writing the next "Great American Novel." Instead, the writers of young adult fiction set out to connect with the demographic who needs that connection the most.

YA fiction is arguably more important than adult fiction because the young adult audience is our most vulnerable and most pliable audience. The young adult audience is the audience (and the voters, and the consumers, and the artists, and the leaders) of the future, at their most mold-able and fragile. This is the age when they are most primed to learn, to discover, and to become, and what we give them to learn from and to discover from matters.

Just give them Steinbeck, you may say. There's plenty to learn from Steinbeck.

They don't give a fuck about Steinbeck.

So we have to meet them on their level, speak in their language. It is our responsibility reach them, and to teach them. We need to reach the teenage girls (and teenage boys!) living lives of constant doubt and help them find their voices, so we can build a stronger generation, and a stronger future.

Every brilliant writer who has decided to venture into the Young Adult field has taken on that responsibility. What social responsibility was Ernest Hemingway taking on?

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