April 18, 2014
As a child, I’d sit on Mother’s bed while she dressed for an evening. She’d hand me her jewelry box to untangle its contents. Chunky costume bangles and tortoise shell necklaces intertwined with precious family heirlooms, gold watchbands, barely visible silver chains, emerald earrings, cubic zirconia tennis bracelets, my father’s unworn wedding band, and too large earrings that made her earlobes droop. I’d lift the snarled mayhem from the velvet lining, eagerly setting to work. Larger pieces were unraveled from each other first. Following the twisted lines, over, under, between and through, smaller pieces were separated from the larger ones; then, tiny from tinier. Finally, millimeters from my eyes, infinitesimal knots in fishing line fine chains were loosened and freed from themselves. Each liberated accessory was laid on the bed, paired, if necessary, and organized by type. Prideful, I’d watch Mother select a few pieces and toss the rest back into the box, recreating the sparkling tumbleweed for another evening.
Inadvertently, Mother was instructing me in the art of puzzle-solving. More so, the technique, approach, challenge, and adoration for figuring things out. The untwining of objects, repeated innumerably, coupled with positive reinforcement, embedded the task into my developing psychology. Building intellectual muscle-memories, and unconsciously self-constructed personality traits. I became unapologetically curious; a tenacious seeker of the how and why.
The desire to scrutinize may be the core of me. I approach the world with an eagerness to know, in the ultimate effort to be known. A greediness to understand. How does it work? How is it related to it’s surroundings, in space, in time, in concept? What are it’s similarities to and distinctions from previously solved puzzles? The task is especially applied to objects of affinity, which happens to be mostly art and its process. I enjoy thinking about and analyzing art with regard to its emotional affect on me. Further, I relish discussing these ideas with others.
I purchased the HYAFW domain exactly a year ago at the advice of my then-partner. The original concept was to write about Young Adult books and trends. The motivation was two-fold: a documentation of elements in YA applicable to my own fiction, and a portfolio for possible employment in publishing. Neither idea considered you, my Audience.
It took an entire, tumultuous year to launch How YA Fiction Works. So far, for personal reasons, I consider it a success. My perspective on its purpose has evolved slightly. The approach is still as a notebook for ideas on writing. And since a notebook is casual, it allows me to be incorrect, to fail, to write imperfectly, to revise and edit. However, now I’ve also thought about you, Reader.
My graduate program confused me about the exact thing I was there to learn. The program’s dialogue, including the advisers’ language, of “writing craft” was shrouded in a veil of unspecific words, illogical reasonings, confusing advice and magical thinking. As if they were hiding that which they should be elucidating in order to keep us out of the special “I’ve been published” club. I should have known better than attend a program whose director “channels” to match students with advisers. I graduated more befuddled than ever, and worse, with a dwindled desire to write.
So, HYAFW is my attempt to clearly, specifically, and logically discuss writing elements. I strive to approach these as I did Mother’s jewelry box: untangling the web of how and why. Ideally, I am clarifying literary matters for writers and readers of all levels and genres, who share my passion for figuring things out. HYAFW greatest achievement would be to positively effect your writing and reading, as it does mine.
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