Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I should know better than to make writing plans in the summer. During the school year, my writing is often derailed because of a volunteer or child activity. But in the summer, it's much worse! Sunny days and blue skies are enough to throw me completely off track. So this morning I decided to schedule time to edit. I even put it on my calendar.

I woke up early and got my emails/Twitter/Facebook out of the way. Then I took my daughter to a birthday party. I planned one solid hour of edits and NOTHING ELSE while she played mini-golf. Ha.

I came home and tried to avoid Twitter. I really did. But my phone buzzed about a DM, so I checked. A quick peek. Nothing more.

Then I slipped into the #YASaves discussion. One hour and seventeen minutes later, I emerged. Number of edits - zero. But it was the best hour I spent not-editing because of the amazing discussion of darkness in YA books. (I mentioned the beginning of the debate in my latest newsletter, and the discussion is far from over.)

Today NPR dedicated an hour to the question Is Young Adult Fiction Too Dark? On the show, they had the author of the original WSJ article and a follow-up, Meghan Cox Gurdon. In the other corner, they had Maureen Johnson, YA author and amazing twitter presence. (Seriously, if you don't follow her on twitter @maureenjohnson, you should!)

After a few tries, I was able to listen to the show online. If you missed it, you can listen to the MP3 here. Meghan tried to defend her position on darkness in books, but in the end, she fell flat. She relied heavily on stereotypes, and Maureen countered each statement with poised rebuttals that left me nodding vigorously in front of my laptop.

The twitter feed for #YASaves was speeding by at the same time. When I wasn't nodding, I was laughing out loud at the great tweets from others who were listening, too. I tried to RT only the really good ones, but there were so many! I did restrain myself to these:
(By the way, I'm sorry if you have no idea what I'm talking about because YA is not your thing - more than one tweeter apologized to followers who may be lost in the sea of YA tweets.)

So what is the point of all of this? Two things:

First, I was surprised by my own reaction to this discussion. My heart raced, I squirmed in my chair, I talked back to people who were not in the room with me--all unusual behaviors for me. The love I have for the work I do was never more obvious than when I couldn't join the conversation immediately. And then I loved every point that Maureen made in defense of writers who are willing to go down those dark paths and the teen readers who have the common sense to tell the difference between reality and fiction. Her voice was strong, her points were clear and her supporters were tweeting their applause as fast as they could type.

The second point is that it felt good to really use Twitter. I've been on Twitter for over a year, and I've had a few conversations here and there, but I've never joined one of the hashtag chats as a participant. It was exhilarating. I didn't know most of the people behind the tweets I read, but we had similar reactions to the same words, similar rejections of inaccurate assumptions, similar outrage (such as when Meghan said she felt pity for Cheryl Rainfield, author of Scars--I cringed!). I saw the community rally around Maureen and the teens who spoke of how dark books help them, and I didn't want it to end.

I know it's not really over, even though the broadcast ended hours ago. I have a feeling many more #YASaves discussions are going on right now, whether on Twitter or on blogs or in soon-to-be-published articles. So check them out if you get a chance. You might find yourself tweeting away with the conversation like I did.

I was a bit worn out--but in a good way--at noon today when I closed my laptop. I wonder if that's how Maureen felt as well. Someone needs to give her a juice box to celebrate!


  1. In which I confess my love for twitter - I AM ADDICTED.

    I don't have kiddos so I'm constantly on my phone. I'm glad my husband loves facebook or I'd be in trouble!

    Great blog!

  2. Thanks, Jen! I need to quit my browser if I want to get any work done - and hide my phone! Otherwise the pull of twitter is too strong to ignore... :)