Even Without Book Bans, Publishing Has a YA Issue
themarysue.com – Sunday May 21, 2023
Young Adult (YA) literature has found itself under attack from an increase in book banning and censorship. Right-wing groups like Moms for Liberty have set their sights on YA literature, and have succeeded in removing countless titles from school districts and local libraries. Some of the most common targets are books that address topics like abuse, racism, and LGBTQIA issues. Right-wing groups raise outrage by wrongfully classifying YA books as “pornography” to make them inaccessible to readers of all ages. However, book banning is only part of the genre’s continued fight for survival.
Those who oppose YA literature are definitely part of the problem, but those who support it may also be unintentionally harming it. So many adults are reading, publicly reviewing, and commenting on YA literature that YA books are now tailored to adults instead of teens. There’s also the issue of adult books mislabeled as YA literature, and vice versa. The problem isn’t that kids can’t read or handle any content deemed “adult.” It’s that adults and young readers are two completely separate markets, and the needs and interests of each ought to be evaluated separately. Additionally, price hikes in books make YA literature inaccessible to their target audience.
The 'publishing less' conundrum
thebookseller.com – Thursday May 18, 2023
Yes, publishers are overstretched — but fewer books won’t really help.
Do we need to care for authors better, rethink staff workloads and pay more attention to each book? Yes. But the short answer to "can we publish less, but better?" is: not necessarily.
Most would agree we don’t want lists reduced, teams shrunk and only safe titles published. This wouldn’t be serving readers, writers, the industry or society. So what we need is a situation where authors are better communicated with, books are given more attention, and the changed nature of publishing roles is recognised.
As someone who has tried to do exactly that, from the luxury of a fresh start with a new company, it’s worth highlighting our aims and our realisations.
How to get published in a literary magazine: ‘Whatever excites you will excite us’
irishtimes.com – Sunday May 14, 2023
Gemma Tipton offers a beginner’s guide to taking up a new cultural pursuit
If there was an Olympics for philosophical musings, Ireland’s Chat Team would surely win gold. Some get their deep thoughts down on paper, but how do you take the next step and get it in print? Lisa McInerney is editor of the Stinging Fly.
Aren’t literary magazines for people who write stuff that’s hard to read?
Absolutely not. Danielle McLaughlin says she credits the Stinging Fly with enabling her to be a writer today, “something that would once have seemed as remote a possibility as becoming an astronaut”, while Anne Enright says, when people ask her how to break into publishing, she tells them “try there first”.
How to Use ChatGPT for Creative Writing: 6 Ways
makeuseof.com – Thursday May 11, 2023
ChatGPT has far-reaching uses for many writing tasks, including informative and academic essays, copywriting, social media posts, and much more. It’s also an excellent resource for playing with poetry, short stories, and even personal essays and memoirs. Here’s how to use ChatGPT as a tool to help energize your creative writing and even overcome writer's block.
1. Work With Poetic Forms
When you're studying poetry, it's easy to get a bit overwhelmed by the variety of different poetic forms. Because ChatGPT can generate a poem in just about any form, however, it’s a fun way to play around with common poetic types, and you can endlessly tweak the prompts to create different responses.
What Teaching Shakespeare Taught Me About Writing Horror
lithub.com – Monday May 8, 2023
Titus Andronicus May Be Bloody, but the Scottish Play and Othello Are Psychological Horror Perfection
A desolate moor, haunted by incomprehensible supernatural beings. Chains rattling in a dark castle, ghosts prowling the ramparts. A grisly corpse, hands chopped off and tongue sliced out. For any horror-lovers, whether the Gothic classics or the contemporary greats, these tropes will ring familiar.
They come, of course, from Shakespeare.
In fact, after more than a decade of teaching his work, I’ve come to see Shakespeare—at least when he’s writing tragedies—as primarily a horror writer. He might perhaps be the most significant influence in the entire English language to the Gothic, and consequently the modern, horror tradition.
On the surface, no play epitomizes this more than his first tragedy, the grisly Titus Andronicus. It is the Saw franchise of Elizabethan theatre, filled with as much shock and gore as Shakespeare could possibly have packed into a single play. As well as a full complement of stabbings, hangings, and beheadings, the audience is treated to Aaron being buried up to his neck until he starves to death, seeing Lavinia’s hands removed and tongue cut out, watching on as Alarbus’s arms and legs are cut off and he is thrown into a fire, and finally, Shakespeare delivers the coup-de-grace as Chiron and Demetrius are baked into a pie and then fed to their mother. Let it not be said that gore is a new thing in popular entertainment.
Asked to Delete References to Racism From Her Book, an Author Refused
nytimes.com – Monday May 8, 2023
The case, involving Scholastic, led to an outcry among authors and became an example of how the culture wars behind a surge in book banning in schools has reached publishers.
It was the most personal story that Maggie Tokuda-Hall had ever written: the tale of how her grandparents met and fell in love at an incarceration camp in Idaho that held Japanese Americans during World War II.
The book, called “Love in the Library,” is aimed at six- to nine-year-olds. Published last year by a small children’s publisher, Candlewick Press, it drew glowing reviews, but sales were modest. So Tokuda-Hall was thrilled when Scholastic, a publishing giant that distributes books and resources in 90 percent of schools, said last month it wanted to license her book for use in classrooms.
When Tokuda-Hall read the details of the offer, she felt deflated — then outraged. Scholastic wanted her to delete references to racism in America from her author’s note, in which she addresses readers directly. The decision was wrenching, Tokuda-Hall said, but she turned Scholastic down and went public, describing her predicament in a blog post and a Twitter post that drew more than five million views.
Jaime Green on Writing with Research
lithub.com – Saturday April 29, 2023
I realized early on that what I loved about writing nonfiction was the finding. Digging some marvel out of a dusty corner and giving it a good wipe-down, holding it up so the reader can see how it catches the light. Look at that!
The item is always in the light, not me. The thrill of the jackpot in research entranced me, as did the satisfaction of setting the artifact in the perfect frame of an essay. Instead of puzzle pieces with only one solution, the research was mosaic tiles, making a different picture if you placed them this way or that. I thought, for a while, that was my art.
But it’s a choice, of course, how visible a writer makes their research. Not the information found, but the act of finding. And not the credit and citation—that’s not a flexible requirement—but whether the sourcing lives in your prose instead of just the back of the book. You do get to decide.
I'm a poet. And I celebrate the days I write nothing
wbur.org – Friday April 28, 2023
During the 30 days of April, poetry, normally not-in-the-limelight, earns a hashtag: it’s #NationalPoetryMonth. It's as though Emily Dickinson has won a Publisher's Clearinghouse prize. There's a major uptick in poems studied, written, performed, and published as poetry becomes the focus of national educational organizations and local community arts counsels, heralded by U.S. Presidents and English language arts teachers alike.
I've been writing and publishing poetry since I was 15. It's usually a quiet gig. Come April, though, my day planner is flooded with readings, public appearances, online events, interviews and contests to establish or judge — and I'm only a state poet laureate. I can't imagine what U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limon's calendar looks like for those four weeks. All this fanfare for a genre that won't be touched by most literary agents.
Without freedom of publishing, culture withers
telegraph.co.uk – Friday April 28, 2023
In a world of ideological polarisation, books are in a hazardous position. On the Left, we have those who want to rewrite history, to vandalise our cultural heritage – as illustrated by Penguin Random House’s assault on the works of Roald Dahl, disclosed by The Telegraph in February – and to introduce a literary landscape where the experience of the individual is favoured over the unfettered imagination.
Yet while such small-mindedness is prevalent on both sides of the Atlantic, America is also seeing a rise in censorship and book banning from the Right – which, fortunately, is yet to make it to British shores. The New York Times reported that according to the American Library Association, attempted bans have seen an alarming rise, with 2,571 titles under fire in 2022, compared with a mere 223 in 2020. Many of these books are estimable, but seem to fall victim to their thematic content, which doesn’t always sit well with middle America. Third on the list, for instance, was Toni Morrison’s debut novel The Bluest Eye (first published in 1970), which not only features a racially abused black child who yearns to have blue eyes, but also contains a hefty amount of sex and violence.
Margaret Atwood and Mona Awad on Writing Outside the Lines
nytimes.com – Saturday April 22, 2023
Margaret Atwood: I’ve been an admirer of Mona’s novel “Bunny” (2019) for some time. It’s a form of Gothic satire, and she sets it at a writing school. It’s very funny, kind of horrifying and quite far outside the lines. You think, “She’s not going to go there … yes, she is.”
Ideas about writers were so thin on the ground when I decided to be one. I was talking to somebody else about this recently and said, “People like you and me went into it out of ignorance.” And she said, “Had I only known, I never would have!” It was kind of like walking across Niagara Falls blindfolded without knowing it. And then people would say, as they did in my presence, “Well, of course women can’t write.” This was the mid-60s. Luckily, I was in Canada, and Canadian writers were so bottom of the heap they were willing to become friends with anybody, even if they were female. So writers of my generation in Canada were making it up as we went. We made up small publishing companies. We made up little magazines. We made up writers’ organizations. Because few of those things existed. Creativity moves in to fill a vacuum.