Posts Tagged ‘Maureen Johnson’




The Wall Street Journal vs. My Heroes–Darkness TO Visible

Filed under: Young Adult (YA)

I’m sure you’ve seen the article in the Wall Street Journal–Darkness too Visible.  Everyone is commenting on it and I don’t want to be redundant.  In short, the YA community is up in arms.  We had a visceral response to what was written and for multiple reasons.  Here are my favorite responses–Libba BrayLaurie Halse Anderson and the voices of everyone on twitter who commented on #YAsaves.

What I want to talk about is heroes.  YA is filled with them and I don’t mean the ones that are created in between the pages of books. (Although they can be pretty awesome too.)  I’m talking about the real heroes.  I have been a member, in some capacity, of the YA community for a long time.  I’ve been a teenager, a reader, an aspiring author, a friend and I will be a debut novelist in the Fall of 2012. Never, in all my different interactions with those in YA, have I ever met an author, publisher, editor or agent who wasn’t ultimately driven by their love of writing and their desire to bring something good into the world.

Yes, yes, yes–I know, publishing is a business and ugly things happen just like in any slice of life.  I’m not naive.  But I believe, that at the end of the day, most of what we do is driven by that insecure, bruised, shamed, lonely teenager in all of us.  We work as a team to bring these books into the world because we are trying to fill the void that was there when our book wasn’t.  This means something to us.  The person we are today and the one who never got past some really hard and ugly things.

In my opinion, the Wall Street Journal article opinion piece, will end up having done way more good than damage.  It has reminded everyone that we have real heroes that walk among us.  I have K.L. Going’s slogan pinned right next to my desk where I can see it every day.  “Be yourself.  Have an opinion.  Tell the World.”  Our heroes don’t just write the books, they step up and they stand out.  And while their words are a powerful tool–they almost don’t need to use them–they’ve mastered the art of “show don’t tell.”

I once told Laurie Halse Anderson that she changed my life by her ability to be so real, human and honest to me during those fragile times when I was just beginning to write.  She told me that she had once stood in the same place and others had done the same thing for her.  She told me…”This is what we do, we support each other and one day you will do it for the ones coming behind you.”  If I ever get lost, on my journey as an author–have no fear–I know where to turn.  I’ll be looking towards my heroes…

While my list of heroes in YA is longer than my left arm, today I would like to tip my hat to Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Ellen HopkinsLaurie Halse Anderson and Jay Asher for being brave and reminding us of the value of having a powerful and unique voice–on and off the page.

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