Why the Distinction? – A guest post by Kristine Raymond

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Why the distinction?

A photographer takes pictures, builds a portfolio, and opens a studio.

An artist paints day and night, assembles a collection, and hosts a showing at a local gallery.

A musician rehearses for months in his band mate’s garage, records an album, and releases it under his own label.

An author writes for hours, agonizing over every word, edits and polishes the manuscript, then self-publishes and… wait. What? They self-publish?? Shock and horror abound.

When I tell people I’m an author, the first question I’m almost always asked is “Who’s your publisher?” Why does that matter? I’m asking; in the general scheme of things, why does the name of the publisher I list on my creation matter anymore than the name you put on yours? Why is what I create deemed inferior because it lacks the stamp of approval from a recognizable publishing house?

Your picture is slightly out of focus. There’s a smear on the right hand corner of your canvas. That last chord was off-key. You adjust, you fix your mistakes, and your next project is better than the last. Humans learn by doing; by pushing themselves to evolve, to master new techniques, to perfect their masterpiece.

Authors are no different; self-published or not. We make mistakes, and we fix them. We hone our skill and write a better story. Being self-published does not make us less than. Rather, it takes an immense amount of courage to release our creations to the world, to have them studied and critiqued and, oftentimes, ridiculed. We’re no different than any other artist out there, yet self-published authors are looked down upon, even by those in the same circles.

So, I ask again; why the distinction?

Yes, the process for publishing a book has become, for lack of a better word, easy. Anyone can do it; and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost money, depending on the product the author is comfortable selling. But artists sell their paintings on Etsy and musicians sell their music on CD Baby. What’s the difference? Outlets for creative work are available for a reason; because real talent was going unrecognized by those guarding the gates.

Are my books all that? I leave it to my readers to decide. Will I, one day, be able to add the title of best-selling author to my books? Time will tell. It would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the reason I self-publish. I discovered a hidden well of creativity inside me, a true enjoyment for writing, and, truth be told, I like just letting the words flow. More importantly, I like writing them my way, without someone standing over me critiquing this or deleting that. I had enough of that during my school years.

I believe creativity is subjective. Different is good. Writing a story shouldn’t be like fixing a carburetor. It’s not the formulaic process many believe. It’s an art form; words are the medium rather than film or paint or notes.

So, do me a favor. Please stop equating self-publishing with less than. Please stop undervaluing the time and effort I put into my art. Will what I release ten years from now be better than what I released last month? I sure as hell hope so. I have no desire to churn out the same thing over and over. I want to learn new techniques, apply them to my work, craft something beautiful and worthy of awe. What artist doesn’t?

Good or bad, I’m shaping my own future, and the responsibility as such lies squarely on my shoulders. You know what? I can live with that.

Now, go create something beautiful …
~ Kristine Raymond

Connect with Kristine on her blog www.kristineraymond.com

There you’ll find out about her books and can sign up for her newsletter.

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Why I Write Young Adult by L.J. Launer

 

Today on Paws 4 Thought I present a guest post by a local St. Louis author L.J. Launer. He talks about his love for young adult literature and why he writes it.

 

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People often ask me why I write young adult fiction. I read many books in a variety of genres. Some of my favorite reads have included Jonathan Franzen’s The Twenty-Seventh City (which is set in my hometown of St. Louis), mysteries by Dee Henderson, Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series, and many Gregory MacDonald’s Fletch mysteries. But always I return to young adult literature…YA has something intriguing that draws me to the genre.

I think part of it is that the characters are just taking their first steps into the adult world. They are discovering its challenges. Do they join the rat race? Or do they try to make the world a better place to live in?

But why high school, you ask? I answer, why not high school? Most young adults who are in high school today are both interesting and intelligent. They even fool many adults. But don’t make all YA characters totally anti-establishment. Because that isn’t real. It isn’t that way even if you are writing YA science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, or the “superhero” literature that has started to take hold in recent years.

My first inspiration with young adult came when I was in the middle of plotting my first novel, but not my first published novel. It was 1986 and I was creating a chapter outline for a novel that is still a work-in-progress. In March of that year, I went to the movies with a friend of mine. We saw a movie called LUCAS, which was set mainly in a high school and the characters were primarily high school students with a few adults along the way. It was essentially a young adult movie. It inspired me to refocus the novel I was working on into a young adult novel.

It took me 29 years to publish my first novel, Rurals and Townies. Many of my writer friends over the years told me I was beating a dead horse. But I stuck to it and today, that one novel has become my Blanchette High School series.

In order to do any writing and be good at it, you have read. Read everything from the classics, like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn or the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Read contemporaries such as John Green, who is the current superstar of YA. Also check out another great YA writer, Tom Tharp, who wrote The Spectacular Now.

Several of my friends have published YA. And what amazes me is how many adults read popular YA series like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

Young adult is alive and well. I appreciate the genre and I continue to enjoy writing it.

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Check out L.J. Launer’s novels on Amazon.