Anne B. Walsh - Do you believe in magic?

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Anne's Randomness

So I will

Have you ever seen the funny photos where a business's outdoor sign will say something along the lines of "My boss told me to change the sign so I did"? I'm feeling a little like that this morning. My brain's fuzzy, due to holiday and novel-publishing letdown plus lack of sleep, but my calendar told me to write a blog post, so I will.
Now, a fuzzy-brained Anne, plus one without direction to her blogging (since nothing is currently happening with Trycanta), tends to get emo. I'm fighting it, people, but I need help. What do you want to see? What would interest you, catch your attention, make you want to open these blog posts, read and even possibly respond to them? 
...well, I guess I'm getting better. I only had to redact four paragraphs of whining this time, rather than eight or nine. Even this second try, though, is wanting to trend towards the "nobody loves me, everybody hates me" model, so I'll just say, to all those readers who must be very busy this time of year, miss you, hope you'll be back soon!
To everybody who is still reading, greetings! I'm in my usual state of shortly-after-publishing confusion, with my brain going "Ooh, that would be fun, but that would be nice, but that, but that, but that..." Just in case you have ever doubted, I do indeed have the mind of a five-year-old, and the attention span to mat -- oh look it's shiny!
Kidding. Mostly. What it means is, I'm having some trouble settling into a new long-form project. While I do have Playing with Fire well started, I'm not positive that everything I have is good or keepable, so I think that I need to hold off for a little while longer on that one, until I have the necessary distance to make those decisions.
As it has for several years, when it has nothing else to do, my brain goes dancing back to Trycanta, to Dangerous Truths, and even earlier, to the writing I was doing in that world before the Dangerverse. Some of you who've been around a LONG time may remember some of the stories I wrote then (keep it to yourself if so!).
In any case, I'm considering taking those stories, tossing them into the blender which is my brain on caffeine, and seeing what comes out, now that I'm a decade older and more experienced in writing. However, I hit one big roadblock before I'm ever started, which is: what age should my protagonists be, this time around?
When I was first writing, there wasn't much question in my mind. Naturally the protagonists were the same age as me, late teens/early twenties. But even with the themes I'm exploring, those of childhood vs. adulthood, of making one's own decisions, of the true meaning of maturity, I'm not sure if I want to stay with that.  
This is because, in our ever more complicated world, the age of a story's protagonist slaps a big old label on that story, defining who it "should" be read by and what it "should" be like. Some stories escape that, becoming more broadly read, almost universal. But an awful lot never do, so it's a point I need to consider seriously.
Do I want to write this story about actual children? And if so, how do I avoid the dual traps of "get rid of the parents" or "the parents do everything"? For that matter, how do I keep it from becoming a bad knock-off of DV? I've had some tentative ideas in that direction, but they've never crystallized... is it maybe just not their time yet?
Or, if I go the other direction, if I make my protagonists the same age I am now, take these stories out of the "children's" or "young adult" realm, what then? Can the themes I started with hold up, when my characters are so different? Or maybe am I looking at it from the wrong direction? Should I be writing from the parents' POVs? see a little of what I put up with. If you've ever envied me, reread the above, and then imagine what it's like to have that going on inside your head, all day, every day. It's not amazing that I write in the quantities and the style that I do... what's amazing is that I'm still more or less able to function in the everyday world!
So, despite a whiny beginning, I managed to write a decent blog post today, or so I think and hope. If there are things you aren't seeing and would like to, or things you are seeing and don't enjoy, or anything else, please tell me. Silence, in this context, means not approval but indifference, and nothing cuts deeper to an authorial soul.
Thanks, as always, for reading! More news on Playing with Fire later in the week, on its proper day, and Facebook and (ugh) Twitter updates in between times!

10 Comments to So I will:

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Elizabeth Conall on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 12:33 PM
A point to consider: In the works with which I am familiar, there's lots of child protagonists, lots of teen protagonists, a fair number of young adult protagonists...and the only protagonists your age are in Nora Roberts novels. I am given to understand that this pattern holds true outside the works with which I am familiar, as well. That means there's a shortage of protagonists your age in fantasy. (I mean, Roberts writes plenty of fantasy, but if you tell me a single book of hers--excluding what she writes as JD Robb--is better shelved anywhere but romance I will laugh.) I vote therefore that you write protagonists your age. Whether they should be the parents or the kids, I don't know, but I think exploring your stated themes with the kids while they're your age would be, at the very least, different. Could be interesting and fun, too. And real-world applicable, given how many people are living with their parents even up to your age...
Reply to comment
Anne on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 9:02 AM
Fair point. I shall consider it.

Dawn on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 9:51 PM
Could you write with multiple viewpoint characters, all different ages? A 15-year-old, and 30-year-old, and one of their parents? I've never seen a book written that way, so maybe it's impossible-or-extremely-difficult (or impossible to sell, which is another concern). Or a series with ten year gaps between the books? A canon that contains its own backstory and future-fic and kid-fic.
Reply to comment
Anne on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 9:04 AM
I think "unsellable" is probably the bigger problem. Judging by the past, though, a book with a main cast of kids/young adults, but with some strong input from the older members, might do fairly well by appealing across generations...

Geoffrey on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 2:52 AM
“Now, a fuzzy-brained Anne, plus one without direction to her blogging (since nothing is currently happening with Trycanta), tends to get emo.
That’s my favorite kind, actually. It doesn’t really matter what you write, so long as it isn’t pure infodump. I hate that. You go out of your way to tell us all the exciting things you have available for us, and the only thing I can think is… “yay?” What I really want to know is how you feel about it. So I wish you’d self-censor a big less. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

And is that an implicit question in there? “Why is no one reviewing?” Anne asks. Honest answer: I’m saving up for Christmas Eve. It’s a personal tradition I started sometime back by accident. Since I’m a night owl anyways, I spend half the night before Christmas with a good book. Something with a warm and fuzzy quality. So this year I’m setting aside some ‘Anne’ stories for the occasion. I’ll leave feedback as a Christmas present.

So, when your brain goes all wibbly-wobbly with ideas, do you write them down when you can? Or do you find this happening to you:
A sudden thought,
   a momentary insight;
flashes bright—
   the way revealed
   to right the world.
One spark,
   fades Away.
Memory remains,
   a mocking laugh;
   a world unwrit
By any thought.

Ah, but you asked an actual question, Anne, so you deserve an actual answer. How does one write about children with a sane family life? I think the answer is to choose a driving conflict that cannot be resolved by adults. Or at least not without the child protagonists. Inasmuch as children have problems and questions and issues to resolve, literature aimed toward a younger demographic needs to essentially be about those same things: the things children understand. While the conflict can be anything, it needs to be framed in how it impacts the protagonists world, and defining that is what makes a story intrinsic to an age group.

On the other hand, writing about a younger age group while targeting an older one… that’s tricky. Coraline comes to mind: though its style clearly targets children, the themes do not. And while you’re not Gaiman, he’s certainly an excellent role-model as far as authors go.

Okay, my turn to ask questions. And the question of the day is: If you could have any one non-material wish granted, and strictly for your own benefit, what would it be, and why? Er… besides success and sales. I’m pretty sure that counts as a material benefit.

Oh, and what was that about envying bad math skills? I’m a bit confused about that.
Reply to comment
Anne on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 9:19 AM

I don't know whether you're alone or not. I only know that when my whiny side is validated by seeing its views aired in public, it will whine more and longer next time, which cuts down on my ability to do useful things.

It's not just reviews -- engagement on all platforms is down and I'm wondering if I've done something to bug people. As for ideas, they tend to stick around my head, blend and separate, merge and meld and mix. Nothing's ever really gone.

Thanks for the advice. One non-material wish... I'd wish for everybody to realize that the guidance of one's self is not infallible, and that a self-centered life inevitably becomes smaller, narrower, and less rewarding, not more. And if I had no math skills, I wouldn't know just how little my writing time is currently worth in money!

Haminac on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 12:39 PM
*Comes in humming a children-tv-series'-tune* Heihei! I say: You know your own whiny side best, so if self censoring is the way to tame it, go forth. Still to me as read-a-lot it's still a bit annoying to get this "I wrote something, but I won't show it to you because I think it's no good" every other time. It's like a small children's voice inside me saying "But I WANT it!" :D So I understand that the sells from the new published works weren't as high as you expected/hoped. I'm sorry for that and for you. I will probably hit the stores between Christmas and New Year because then I will actually have spare time to read :D And I intend to do so A LOT! On the current topic of character's POVs: Uhm. I don't know really. Only because you are an adult doesn't necessarily mean you're grown up (qed by your reports about work and probably everybody elses everyday life). So I think you can still combine one and the other. The childrens POV with input from adults seems to be nice to. I like it a lot in DV. One note on money: What you get for your writing and what it is worth actually IS something different. I am also not sure about the influence of your personal behaviour towards the buying-behaviour of the readership: Even if I didn't like what you write in your comments and such, I would still read the stories. Simply because they're goooooooooood *hehe* I can understand the feeling, but still consider it unjustified. DV: All is well in love and war :D I look forward to next chapters and also enjoy Raven&WrtingDesk a lot. The idea is pretty cool, I have wished more than once throughout DV that Lucius was simply g.o.n.e. ;]
Reply to comment
Anne on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 1:31 PM
Trust me, honey, you don't want this. It's thoroughly unpleasant. I can deal much better with low sales if I know that people WILL buy the book eventually, so thank you for telling me that, and for your thoughts on POVs!

JacqueMarie on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 1:47 PM
Let me start by assuring you that a lack of interaction (by me at least) has nothing to do with your comments, etc. It's just that time of year where I focus more on classes and Christmas shopping (or Thanksgiving prep, which is over now, thankfully) than on reading the cool things I want to, and being able to process my thoughts on them enough to formulate a response. As for your POV problem - I think it would be very interesting to see things from the parent's point of view - all this random stuff going on with their kids, but how much they should help/let them handle it on their own. Also, write people your own age. Adults tend to have experience, lots of friends, and still retain a sense of humor. I know it's not exactly fantasy, but a lot of the characters in the Star Wars expanded universe (books, because I don't read the comic books) are adults. Yes, children and teenagers do feature, but often times they are getting into situations where they need experienced people to help/rescue them, but they are not always the main characters focused on. ... not sure if that helped at all, but when I was younger (like middle school) I enjoyed reading about adults as much as about kids my age or older.
Reply to comment
Anne on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 4:22 PM
I thought it probably didn't, which is why I hate to bring such things up (and should learn to keep my mouth shut), but a sudden drop on Facebook and such from 20-25 likes and several comments to 2-3 likes and no comments tends to leave me a bit perplexed. Thanks for the thoughts -- into the cauldron o' thinking they go!

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