As I was researching literary agents to pitch my manuscript to, I came across an interesting conversation. The conversation was a series of tweets between agents about what it means to write to the middle grade crowd.
photo credit: read brightly
I remember them tweeting that writers must be mindful when writing to the middle grade audience because of their technology-driven world.
Then, I came across a statement that caused me to pause. In so many words an agent made a statement that the middle grade books that come across her desk mostly come from writers born in the 80s wanting to write about their childhood (And, what's wrong with that?). Someone also says they find it lazy when writers reference outdated technology in their text because it dates the book, which prevents it from feeling timeless.
I would like to think I can take a good, healthy dosage of criticism and reality. However, I can honestly tell you that those comments didn't sit too well with me. And, if any of them just so happen to read this and decide that my manuscript is not for them, I think that's okay.
One thing I've learned in this journey is that everyone won't understand your vision. If they understood your vision it would be theirs, not yours.
In whatever you do, you will come against opposition. You will come against people who simply don't understand your point of view or why you decided to write the story that spoke to your soul. But, here's the thing: Write the story you want to write. Create the project you've always wanted to create. Be the person you've always wanted to be.
If we waited around for everyone to approve our ideas, we will forever sit around like a buffering video awaiting a clear signal. The signal has never been more clear, though. We must march to the beat of our own drum and forge a path that speaks life to us.
Now, maybe I'm reading too much into those tweets. And yes, hit dogs will holler. I'm yapping right now, ya'll. After all, my debut novel is a coming of age tale set in the 90s. It was a glorious time I decided to capture in a book. And, so what if I want to talk about my childhood? Can Christopher Paul Curtis not talk about his? Can Mildred D. Taylor not talk about hers? Can Rita Williams-Garcia not write about her experience?
My 4th graders read The Watsons Go to Birmingham and didn't blink twice when they read about an old school record player. It's capturing the time for goodness sake. All they care about are characters they can relate to. I would like to think I am accomplishing that goal in my writing.
I wrote all of this to say, stay true to yourself. If you try to go with the tide of popular opinion, you'll find yourself swimming against the current. Go with the flow and allow your heart to guide you. You never know what masterpiece you may have on your hands.