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Monday, January 28, 2008

Self-Assessment and Writing

This weekend, I sat down to read Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen, a young adult novel that had been on my to-read list for quite a while.

In discussing the book with NWF (who, it should be mentioned, has recovered from his recent rejections admirably), I commented that it's a book I feel like I could write, unlike a lot of the literary fiction that I usually read.

Books that I admire most, such as All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren, feel out of reach to me as a writer. They feel as if the language flows almost from a divine place, not the scrabbling in the dirt work that it feels like to me.

As I try to assess what kind of writer I am and what kind of novel I am capable of, do I need to aim for the level that I think suits me, or the level I admire? How much does self-assessment factor into what you write and how you try to write it?


Jessica said...

Write what you like. There is no shame--or should be none--in writing YA, or better yet, a nice little love story. Your writing would be respectable no matter what! Those are the books that shape young minds (for better or worse) and that we turn back to as adults for comfort.

I think you're being too harsh on other genres. Literary fiction is great, and I love the way that you right. But if you wanted to and can write a trashy best-seller, or even non best-seller, I would still approve.

Stephanie said...

I didn't mean to imply that writing for the YA audience is somehow lesser than reaching for literary fiction. However, I do think that the critique level of literary fiction is more rigorous than YA fiction, so, considering the fact that I have to work exceptionally hard to write on what I think is a literary level, maybe it would be best to focus my efforts on writing a thoughtful and effective YA or as you say trashy bestseller. The question being is it better to aim for something you think might be beyond your reach, or aim for something you feel confident you can tackle?

Either way, I'd be thrilled to pieces if I ever finished a novel.