Tag Archives: write

Literary Censorship: On a Soapbox

23 Sep

This post has been brewing in me for a while. I didn’t want to write it angry, because then I tend to yell and come across as this crazy person who stands on her soapbox and shouts to force others to listen – anyway. So I waited until I was calmer, until I could get my point across clearly and without too much finger-pointing.

I should start by saying that this post isn’t about Ellen Hopkins at all, though it was the censorship of her books that spurred this post.

Ellen is a great advocate for YA literature that is a little left-of-centre, a little out-of-the-box, and since that’s where my literary interest lies, I have great respect for her as an author. I will admit that her books aren’t for everyone: they deal with very sensitive issues, and I get why some people are offended by them, why they don’t want their children to read these novels, why they think these books shouldn’t be available for just anyone on the shelves – I get it.

But this post isn’t about Ellen or her books (which, for the record, I adore). It’s about the censorship.

I’m going to use an analogy here. I’m going to use Vampire Diaries because, quite frankly, I’m obsessed with the show, and want any excuse to talk about it. Here in Australia, Vampire Diaries occupies an 8:30pm time slot. Back when I was a young teen, I was in bed by then. Most teens these days, however, are not, so they can access shows like Vampire Diaries (and other perhaps more risque shows that are on in a similar time slot), with sex and violence and issues that the younger end of the YA scale shouldn’t necessarily be subjected to. Yet we let our children watch shows with sex and violence and adult-type issues and we don’t really bat an eyelid about it.

Enter the controversial YA novel. It has sex. It has violence. It has issues that we perhaps don’t want our young teens to read about – drugs, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse – the list is endless. They’ve seen all this stuff with their own eyes in movies and on television shows. It looks real. They’re accustomed to it. Yet reading a novel with all this stuff they’ve already been exposed to in it is suddenly not acceptable.

We don’t want our kids to read books that explore the darker side of teen life; of life in general.

We don’t want our kids to be able to hire these books from a library.

We want to ban these books in case someone else’s child reads them and corrupts our children.

If you don’t want your child to read certain things, that’s fine – I understand. We’re all different and we’re all raising our children differently. I don’t hold you not wanting your child to read Ellen’s books – or books of a similar nature – against you. I really don’t. But don’t stop everyone else’s child from reading these “controversial” books just because you’ve decided your child can’t. That’s all I’m saying.

I know I’m probably not making my point very eloquently – forgive me. But I hope, in all of that rambling mess, you were able to see where I was coming from. Because it isn’t about Ellen’s books at all. It’s about the double-standard in the industry, and the cruel message that we’re sending to our authors: that’s it’s not okay to write these types of books, to write from the heart. That it’s not okay to write something that doesn’t have a happy ending or teaches teens that the world can be a dark place.

That it’s not okay to put a piece of our soul on a page – unless it’s a socially-accepted piece of our soul.

Books That Inspire Me

13 Jul

As writers, we all read a lot (and if we don’t then I don’t think we can truthfully call ourselves a writer, since to be a writer you are continually learning, and to learn you need to read – but enough of my soap-boxing). I’ve spoken about the things that inspire me while I’m writing a novel: music in the form of novel soundtracks, images used as brain fodder, poetry and movies and the like. But what inspires me to write in the first place?

Novels. Books. Literature. Extensions of emotion in the written form – whatever you want to call them.

Now, I can’t pick my absolute favourite. To me, being asked to choose my favourite novel is like asking a mother to choose their favourite child – it just isn’t possible. That may not be the case with all readers or authors, but it is with me. I’ve kept every single novel I have ever read. They may not be in my bookshelf, but they’re around somewhere. I just can’t bare to part with my books.

Following is a list of the books that have inspired me to write, each in their own special little way.

* The Mallory Towers Series by Enid Blyton.

I’m sure I read picture books and other small-chaptered works when I was a child, but the Mallory Towers novels really stand out in my mind as the books which ignited my passion for both reading and writing. I have such wonderful memories of these novels: I re-read them over and over until the pages turned grey from my fingers feathering the edges. They will always have a special place in my heart.

* The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

The most recent book I’ve read to make it to the list (I read it for the first time last year), this is perhaps “The Novel” that has greatly inspired my current WIP. Granted, I had two drafts done of my novel before I’d even read this book, but McCarthy’s brutal honesty and his simple, yet poetic prose is what has shaped my little novel into the story it is today. If I had to pick a favourite – if my life depended on it – then this would be the book.

* Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

This is the one novel I can read over and over again and always get something new from it. I don’t read a lot of straight romance, but Austen’s novels never fail to inspire in that regard (for me, anyway). This is a classic romance told with the decorum of the times, with a strong female lead who was perhaps ahead of her times in her boldness. Also, I simply adore Mr Darcy and want one of my own!

* The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee.

Karen’s novel opened my eyes to Australian literature. Much of what I had read before reading ‘Wings’ had been written by either American or British authors, and Karen’s simple and precise writing is the reason I seek out so much Australian talent now – because we ARE a talented writing nation and the world needs to recognise this! If you have not read this novel, you are missing out.

If I pick any more I’ll have to list my entire bookshelf, because once I start talking novels it’s pretty hard for me to stop!

What are some of your favourite novels? What inspired you to write?

and tumbling tumbling

9 Jul

I am taking a much needed writing break. It will probably only be for three days – until next week – but if I can stretch it a little longer, I will. I need to just get away from the words and the frustrations of having no words and just —

Read.

Relax in the sun.

Take a load off.

Do nothing.

Do everything.

I’ll still blog because, let’s face it, there’s no way I can give up all writing – even for just a day. I just won’t be pressuring myself to write, and I won’t touch the novel.

So, if you need me, I’ll be on the beach, or at a barbeque, or sipping on hot chocolate in front of “Pride and Prejudice”, or losing myself in the words of Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allen Poe.

touch me I’m golden

wild as the wind blows

if just for tonight darling, let’s get lost

* The companion song for this post (and the one I was listening to while writing it) is Beck & Bat For Lashes’ “Let’s Get Lost.”

The Journey is What Counts

9 Jul

Talented young author, Steph Bowe, reminded me of something very important last night – something I think I’d forgotten along the way.

I’ve been so caught up in this rush to get my novel finished and ready for submission, have put soo much energy into getting that illustrious publishing contract so that I can finally feel like I have succeeded, that I’ve kind of left the fun of creating behind. I’ve forgotten how wonderful it feels just to be able to WRITE and have become lost in the pressures (all of my own making) of trying to write professionally.

I have to admit that this writer fatigue has been getting me down (a lot!) lately, but reading Steph’s post has rejuvenated me in a way I can’t really explain. I just know that reading it was what I really needed, and though I’m still struggling to get the words on the pages, I don’t feel so lost anymore, because it all makes sense in some strange, indescribable way.

As Steph said: “It’s about enjoying the journey, you guys.”

So write. But don’t write only to be published, or to please a certain demographic, or to get rich – write for YOU. And don’t forget to enjoy it.

If you haven’t read Steph’s insightful post, you really should! <– Linkie!

Patterns in Writing

6 Jul

Current Status: Ahhhh-Chooooo! (sick)

Food Consumed: Mochachino

On The iPod: Breathe Me; Sia

Word Count: 1,800 (all longhand)

So, it’s been a while in between coherent blog posts from me, but my time away from the blog and my novel has helped me realise something about my writing: I have a writing pattern.

This isn’t exactly a big revelation, really. We all have a writing pattern – it’s what helps us create the things we do, and it’s what helps us stay sane when the insanity of writing and fatigue and brick walls sets in. My time away, though, has helped me pinpoint exactly what my pattern is. Not that knowing my pattern will help me to stay inspired when I’m hit with writer’s block, or keep me focused on my words when I’m so tired I can barely even think, let alone write or plot. It’s just interesting to know.

This is what my writing break has taught me about myself:

* My blogging and my novel-writing are co-existing. If my inspiration for one dies, than it also dies for the other. I cannot do just one, I need to do both and it needs to be simultaneous.

* If I’m writing longhand the notebook and the pages must be pretty, and I can only write with a black, 1.0mm ballpoint pen. If it’s not black and it’s not 1.0mm then the words don’t flow.

* The first draft is always easier if I write it longhand. The second and third drafts are easier if I type them straight onto the computer.

* Writing out an in-depth plot is a sure-fire way of killing my creativity. If I plot it, I cannot write it.

* Music helps me write. Images inspire me. Standing outside on a clear day and stretching my arms out makes me appreciate the gift I’ve been given more than anything else I do.

* Facebook and Twitter are distracting, but when I’m in the writing zone I can’t write without them.

* These things feed the muse: strawberry freddos, caramel fudge, Cormac McCarthy, cafe-quality mochachinos and caramel lattes, cheesecake (the baked kind), Lisa Mitchell, cream cheese muffins, Jane Austen films, hiking, the beach, freshly squeezed orange juice, being out on the water, Emily Dickinson, twirling around in my Fabled and True dress, hippy headbands worn sideways.

* I am nocturnal. I write best late at night, when the house is quiet and my iTunes playlist is blaring in my ears.

* All of my best plot ideas and kick-ass sentences come to me when I’m either a) in the shower b) in the car c) on the verge of sleep.

* Having people read and enjoy my words is the best feeling in the world. Honestly, there’s no competition.

* Alcohol and hangovers do not help (thought that’s kind of a given). Migraines make me cranky, not because of the pain but because I’m losing out on precious writing time. And the worst migraines always strike when I’m at my most productive.

I’m sure I can think of more, but that’s enough realistion met for one day.

What has your writing taught you? What are the things you cannot write without? Please share in the comments.