Monday, February 8, 2010

Social networking is good

Okay, the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer. I consider most social networking to be a huge time-suck. One that I enjoy, but a time-suck none the less. Sometimes good things can come of it. Like story ideas. Even if that wasn't the topic on hand. Long story coming up. I hope you have time.

When I was in college in the fine arts program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha we were talking about where we wanted our writing careers to go. What direction did we want to take. Most of the people in the class were literary writers or poets. They had aspirations of being published in the finest literary magazines in the land or landing a sweet teaching position at a prestigious university. One girl in my class was working on her musical career and by most standards she has done quite nicely with that having a couple of top 40 hits. She can also boast that she is huge in Japan.

I told the class I would like to write for children. The teacher looked at me like I had the plague or something worse. "Why is that?" she asked.
"Because I really enjoy the current books that are out for children right now," I said. (This was the mid-90's and the current crop of children's books included The Stinky Cheese Man as well as I Lost My Bear.) They were witty books and I truly did enjoy reading them. For the rest of my time in her class whenever I turned a story in (about every other week) she would ask me in front of the class if it was written for children. I always told her no. my class was not full of children and I was writing for them.  Secretly I think she thought I was wasting my time.

Flash forward fifteen years. I still would like to write for children, despite my short stories. I am subbing a middle grade literary adventure book and I have gotten some encouraging responses so far. I was talking with Chris Fletcher (of M-Brane SF) about dreams and remembered something from a nightmare I had when I was a child. I believe I was five at the time. It was about a witch with a patchwork cape. It scared me half to death. I had the dream several more times throughout my childhood and even as an adult once or twice. K.C. mentioned it would make an excellent story (part of an ABC book I believe she said) and it was seconded by a couple of other folks. I thought about it most of the weekend.

Darn you social networking sites. Don't you know I am working on a YA book right now and can't be bothered.


Aaron Polson said...

Yay! YA books are the best. You are a creative person, Mr. Eyberg, and creative people create. Period.

Alan W. Davidson said...

I'm hoping your teacher wouldn't have thought children's stories a waste of time. My nightschool instructor here had written a children's stories about a girl called Amanda Greenleaf. He recommended a children's book publisher in Vancouver called Orca Books (a number of Newfoundland writers have had success with them). They apparently have a US website you can link to here:

Social networking can be a good thing. Sometimes ;)

Mary Rajotte said...

I say go for it! I've toyed with the idea of YA books, too, but I think my dark side might be too dominant at the moment. I blame my Grandma for the urge to branch out - she wrote kids stories :)

Maybe by writing the tale, you'll rid yourself of the witch for good?

Jamie Eyberg said...

Aaron- currently I am a creative person in a bit of a slump. At least on the short story side of things. The long story side isn't doing much better.

Alan- I think she wondered what I was doing in her class. We didn't always see eye to eye, but she was a good teacher.

Mary- thanks for the encouragement. I am thinking this witch story will be an early chapter book or possibly MG if I can come up with enough idea.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

Children's/YA/MG are important holes to fill...those are the people who will change our diapers when we're 110 years old living on Soylent Green drips at the CyberVac Retirement Home. Also, and of course you already know this, write what you enjoy writing. I think if I was forced to decide between writing stuff I hated for a living vs keeping my day job forever, I may have to keep the day job.

Cate Gardner said...

Well I adore MGs and think you should keep a notebook beside you to jot down ideas in while working on your YA.

Rebecca Nazar said...

A blessing and a curse . . . I'd go for blessing ; ) Good luck.

Fox Lee said...

Ha ha, you're being battered with inspiration : )

Also, your teacher sounds like a dildo.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Jeremy, exactly. I want literate people changing my adult diapers for me.

Cate, I wouldn't be able to read my own writing after an hour or two.

Rebecca, without S.N. I wouldn't keep meeting all these really cool people.

Nat, my wife didn't like her either. The teacher was one of those people who was an editor at Time and had also had shorts in about every major magazine you could think of.

Danielle Birch said...

I've been reading quite a bit of YA fiction these days. You go for it.

Katey said...

God, isn't it weird when people give you that look, like you're out of your mind for having a particular kind of idea? I love kids books, and I love the sound of your witch dream. (Let's hope Mary's right and it gets rid of her forever if you write it!)

Carrie Harris said...

I ran into the same thing with an old teacher. I would really like to send him a copy of my book with "Neiner neiner neiner" scribbled on the inside, but that would be mean, so I won't. But I will think it really hard.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Danielle, YA fiction is different than it was 15 years ago. It is really aimed at a much broader audience than it used to be.

Katey, people look at me like I have two heads all the time. I am used to it anymore.

Carrie, if I ever get a childrens, YA or MG book published I AM going to send a copy to my old writing instructors. :P