Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Who Cares? -- Eve

People have definite opinions on what I write, why it’s not selling, and why I should really give up and write something else. During the last six years, I’ve heard these comments at least infinity times:
  • “Who cares to read about poor, tough, inner-city kids?”
  • “You should write Chick-Lit; it’s much more publishable than what you write.”
  • “Why don’t you write about white girls instead of (insert choice of ethnicity or shade of pigment here) boys? White girls are the ones who buy books.”
Publishable. Salable. The bottom line. Show me da money. I totally get it. I know this is a business. My problem is that I’m not attracted to the idea of writing the “popular” book. I couldn’t create Gossip Girls if you paid me ten million dollars. Okay, maybe I could, but I wouldn’t enjoy it.

Here’s my thing…first, who’s to say that the “typical” reader won’t be interested in reading about impoverished kids going through tough times? Two words: The Outsiders. ‘Nuff said. Second, if it’s true that very few teen boys read, shouldn’t those of us dedicated to literacy be creating interesting stories for them, in hopes of increasing those numbers?

Today I volunteered in several middle school English classes. True, very few boys actually read during free reading time. So, I took an informal poll. Turns out, all agreed that they would choose to read if they could just find something of interest. Little House on the Prairie just isn’t doing it for them. We do have the Greg Neris and the Alan Lawrence Sitomers out there doing their parts contributing to gritty tough-boy lit. But I think we should be flooding the market with endless choices for those tough boys.

Who cares to read about poor, tough, inner-city kids? Well, I do, for one. And I have a feeling I’m not alone. Maybe tough-boy lit will become the new wizard-lit. And then I’ll be kickin’ it like J.K. while little children dress up like my main characters and wait in line at midnight to purchase my books.

- Eve


Becky Levine said...

Boy, did I need to hear this this morning! Thanks, Eve. Yes, we need to write what we love, what we KNOW there are kid out there looking for. And we need (okay, here goes my own personal rant against self-doubt!) to keep sending it to agents (or editors!) and find that one that believes in what we're doing, too.

Thanks for the reminder.

Disco Mermaids said...

Thank YOU, Becky. I suppose I was writing as a reminder to myself as well. I know that I want to write for reluctant readers; specifically, readers who are underrepresented in kid-lit. But I often feel the temptation to cave into writing what's popular and selling.

I truly believe that "there's someone out there for everyone" and hopefully this translates into our world and finding the right agent or editor. So, keep sending! And I'll promise to do the same.


Laura said...

YAY Eve! Write your heart!


Anonymous said...

That's right. Lots of people care, but too many of us allow the "experts" to dictate what should be read/written/sung/performed. Keep at it. I know someone out there will LOVE ROF and publish it. Lamy

ChristineEldin said...

I agree with your post.

I'm over from Ed Anon's site, where I saw a comment from Jay. I've been here a couple of times.
But reading this particular post, I can't figure out if you're published or not. I'd be interested in your book if it's out there. But there's no info about you on the sidebar that I can see.

I personally think you're on to something.

Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks, Laura, Amy, and Christine!

Sadly, I am still pre-published (aside from a "Chicken Soup for the Dog-Lover's Soul" short story and an upcoming article in a "how to write" book).

Good news is that my 5 year labor of love, "Ring of Fire," is in great hands with my incredible agent, who sent out the latest revision in January.

A second YA book is in progress, and I'm sure both my books will be joining Jay's on the NYT Bestsellers List in a few years. I'll keep everybody posted!

Eve :)

MM said...

Dear Eve,

As a teacher, I'm begging you please write something for boys. Don't give up. They need to read what you write.

As a writer, I agree. Write what you love. Thanks for the great blog. If its okay, I'd like to link it to mine