And it bothers me.
I’ve been writing Young Adult fiction for years and, of late, growing more and more frustrated with it and the genre as a whole. I know my frustration stems more from a frustration with myself, with being stuck as an unpublished writer, but it’s not only that. It’s also the fact that I read a lot of YA fiction. Honestly, I read a lot of bad YA fiction. It just to make me feel better, that if these books were published, it would only be a matter of time before mine were too. The problem is that now it’s less likely to make me feel better and more likely to make me angry. I’ve moved on to, if these books were published, then why isn’t mine?!
With that in mind and also the fact that querying and getting no after no completely squashes any desire for me to write, I’ve started to wonder just what it is I should write next.
A long time ago, I didn’t write YA fiction. I used to write short fiction, dabble in (bad) poetry. I wrote literary fiction in college. I completed a Regency romance for my first NaNoWRiMo attempt. I used to love writing for the story, and the story would just come to me. I didn’t think about if what I was writing was sellable or ready for the market or even something that would fit into the YA world. I just wrote.
So now I’m done with my latest YA novel. I’m querying it to absolutely zero success. I’m frustrated and I’m angry and I feel like I don’t even want to bother with it anymore. And by ‘it’ I mean writing. I hate that but it’s the truth.
I don’t want to want to write. Yes, you read that correctly. I want to write, but I wish I didn’t. I wish I didn’t because I don’t know what to write.
I don’t think I want to write any more YA right now, but the problem is those are the only ideas I have right now. I mean, the only really solid ideas. I have two YA novels started — one, WWII-era historical fiction and two, an ‘issues-driven’ contemporary novel — but just the idea of writing another YA novel and trying to find an agent with it makes me anxious and sick to my stomach.
My other novel idea is historical fiction as well, and while I want to write it and have felt like maybe I really, really should write it for a while now, the very idea of actually sitting down to write it (it might be controversial, it’s very personal to me, it requires a lot of research), terrifies me. Maybe that’s as good a reason as anything else to write it, I know. But that doesn’t make it any easier. There’s also the intimidation factor of writing something that isn’t YA. Since it’s been so long and since it appears I can’t even make it as a YA author, how could I possibly be good enough to write anything else?
Is that enough to make me stop writing? Should it be? Of course not. I know I need to keep writing. I want to write. I’ve written four poems in the last week. I’ve started two short stories. (And by started, I mean I have about 20 words each.) I don’t know how I feel about dedicating some time to short fiction and poetry when the better part of my last ten years has been spent on novels.
But maybe that’s what I have to do. Maybe I need a break from the same and take a chance on exploring something different. Maybe instead of jumping into another novel (whether it would be YA or not), I need to focus only on writing. What writing is and what it means to me and then I should just do it. Pieces here and there. A poem. Revise. Repeat. A short story. Another poem. Edit. Repeat. Until I feel more confident. Until I feel like I want to really write again. Until I feel like I have a novel that simply has to come out.
Maybe that’s the best I can do right now, especially because I don’t want to actually give up writing forward. I just want it to mean something again.