I have a niece now.
She’s just about two weeks old, a bundle of adorable, miniature, stinky baby-ness.
And I want to tell her stories.
I went through a lot of phases in my development as a writer. When I was little, I wanted to write rhymes and children’s books, because that’s what I knew, loved, was taking in. As I grew, my tastes–and therefore my goals–grew and changed. Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books made me want to write YA literature, especially focused on fantasy, but when I read Holly Lisle’s Secret Texts trilogy, I was convinced I’d rather write adult fantasy. In college I started to believe that I wanted to write serious fiction, like Kate Chopin’s Awakening or Ian McEwan’s Atonement. For a period of time I even thought “let’s be practical, I can write textbooks instead.” (Yikes).
But now that I’ve been out here in real grown-up land (pay bills! get married! never sleep! clean the bathroom! buy all the books!),
I know for certain that I love YA literature. It is approachable for a wide variety of ages (not just teens but precocious young readers and us old folks who need a break from the intense stuff, too), entertaining and yet full of messages, and is directed toward an audience that I love. I’ve seen authors who get to do book tours and speak at middle schools or libraries–I love that! I want to be that kind of author who can inspire young people to create their own stories and follow through on achieving their dreams. I know that inspired me as a youth… I’ve heard Ellen Kushner, James Scott Bell, Jack Prelutsky, and Verlyn Flieger all speak about writing, and the writing/blogging/tweeting fiends Neil Gaiman and Holly Lisle are also a big influence on my writing dreams thanks to their internet presence (despite the fact that I’ve never seen either one in person).
I want to share my stories with as many people as possible… but if all I have is my niece by my side, listening to (and eventually reading) my stories as she grows up, maybe that will be enough too. I want her to laugh and gasp and cry (maybe don’t tell her mom that last one) at what happens to my characters. I especially hope I get to share all of that with my own kids some day.
But for now, it’s nice to have a tiny niece who is going to be part of my story inventions and evolutions.
* Note: this is a misused meme that has expanded all over the internet for various uses, but it’s originally from Allie Brosh over at Hyperbole and a Half. Not everybody knows its origin, and they should. She’s hilarious.