The first part of that question is easy, the second one...I'm still navigating so please bear with me.
I am many things but what I love best about who I am is that I am a writer. I take everything else I am, and everything I experience and put them into places and people that I create. Childhood habits, accents that catch my attention, colors that appear on the surface of the water on the other side of the globe, all can appear in my stories. To me, it means that those people, places and moments in my life will live on past photos, status updates and memories. They are captured in settings, characters and plot twists to be explored again and again. Stories allow a writer to bend and shape reality into anything she wants. When I write, that reality often takes the shape of a young person’s world, going deep inside a child’s psyche, the inner-workings of teen minds, capturing their complexities and wonderment and putting them into words that anyone can relate to, interpret as they need to, and hopefully be moved by another connection to the human experience.
I am often asked why I chose to pursue a degree in writing for children and young adults. People are surprised that is even an option for Masters level work, like it’s in some way easier than any other kind of writing. It’s not. In my opinion it’s much harder. Children read for good stories and characters that are real to them. They don’t respond to pretentious or preachy writing. They want to learn on their own terms and they want to be entertained while doing so. When you ask a child what book they like, they will often tell you a book title. When you ask an adult, they will often mention an author. An adult will purchase a book because they love the author, even if that author’s last book sucked. A child will not follow an author, they follow characters that are well developed and plots that challenge their view of the world. You have to be able to tell a good story if you want a child or teen to read your work. That is a primary reason I chose a degree in writing for children and young adults. I wanted to focus on becoming a master story teller.
The other reason is children’s books are impacting. They are sometimes the first exploration of alternate ways of absorbing your surroundings. How many people site a children’s book when asked to name their favorite book? Most people do, and do so with fond memories of the feelings those books evoked. I want to evoke those feelings in a person. I want my readers to recall my characters with genuine feeling – even if they hate them, I want them to remember them for a feeling they left deep within them that can’t be shaken with time. That is why I write. That is why I want to write well-crafted stories. That is why I focus my attention on young readers. Their wonderment excites me, it fuels me to keep collecting bits of the world and spinning them into tales they can take with them on their adventures.
This is partly why I am writing this blog. It is a way to dissect my various views of the world and reflect them off a page. I can ramble about things that baffle me or fill me with wonder, what I find engaging and things that piss me off. I can share them with those who choose to respond, and those who read along and react privately. And for me, for today, that is a great reason to blog.