Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Award!

Thanks to Ali Cross for the wonderful blog award! She's one of my favorite writers on the net, and I'm so honored she chose to give me the Cherry on Top Award:



Cute, right? Anyways, the award requires me to answer this question:

"If you had the chance to go back and change on thing in your life, would you, and what would you change?"

Oh boy. Where to start. I know I'm only seventeen, but I've done plenty of things I'm not proud of, particularly during middle school and high school. It's hard to choose one incident, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say my entire sophomore year.

Parts of 10th grade were awesome. Actually, I'd say it was one of the happiest years of my life, when you add everything up. I had a pretty close-knit group of friends, and the kids in my grade got along well. What I really regret are the lies I told. I regret all our stupid, rash decisions. As a sophomore I had a lot of senior friends, and thus lived a senior lifestyle, complete with broken curfews and weekend parties. Looking back I can't believe some of the things we did. If I had the chance, I would take back and lies and the rumors. It wasn't worth it in the end.

I'd like to pass this on to Liesl, an incredibly talented writer who I met this summer at WIFYR. Her blog is wonderful! Definitely deserving of the Cherry on Top Award.


~Kate

Monday, October 25, 2010

Because Madeleine L'Engle said it so much better....

Going back to my post on fantasy fiction and whether or not it has literary merit, here is Madeleine L'Engle's take on the subject. She made this comment based on submissions to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in the 1970's. I think this perfectly sums up what I was trying to say, albeit with much more grace, clarity, and eloquence:

“I am pleased to note a wider enthusiasm for the world which is beyond the world of provable fact, an awareness of fantasy and fairy tale as vehicles of truth, rather than as escape from truth.”

I have to admit, she's pretty awesome.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beta Suggestions Needed

So I finished the second draft of my manuscript today, and it's almost time for betas (probably around the beginning of November). I've never done the whole beta-thing before. With The Hamsa's Song I just did self-edits, read through the story once or twice, and sent it off to my editor.

Sigh. If only things were that simple.

With this story I need betas. I can't objectively evaluate my work at this point and outside opinions would be invaluable. Trouble is, I'm not sure how to go about finding betas, especially people who have the time to turn over an entire manuscript in about three weeks. I want readers who I know and trust. A lot of writers find betas through conferences, or networking at various writing events. With not much experience in the conference department, and as a relatively new face in the Utah writing community, my pool of potential betas is rather small. Obviously I'd be willing to do an exchange of manuscripts. Two cousins (ages 14 and 15) have agreed to read my WIP, but I'd really love to get critiqued by other writers.

So what are your suggestions? How do you go about finding betas, and are you picky about who is allowed to read your manuscripts? Do you choose people you've met in person or look for readers online?

I'm going to go eat chocolate now, because revisions always make me crave sugars and saturated fats. Any advice would be appreciated.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Does fantasy fiction have literary merit?

When I attended the Yourword creative writing residency this summer, I met a girl named Kim. She and I became great friends, but a few weeks ago Kim mentioned something, something which got me thinking about the fantasy genre and how it fits within the academic community. She said, "When I first met you, and you said you wrote fantasy, I was worried you were going to be weird and socially awkward. I'm glad you're not!" I can't blame her. There are so many stereotypes surrounding fantasy, it's hard for many people to understand why someone would choose to write genre fiction.

The other day my little sister, who's almost 16, asked her English teacher if she could read The Lord of the Rings as an independent reading book. The teacher responded no, because The Lord of the Rings is fantasy and therefore lacks literary merit. This ticked me off. Just because something's made up, doesn't mean it can't be insightful, philosophical, and deeply rooted in the human experience. I don't write fantasy simply for the pleasure of using strange creatures or magic spells. I write fantasy because it goes back to the beginnings of human civilization, the myths and legends that defined the evolution of culture.

As living creatures, humans are different from other animals. We build cities and have highly organized systems of government. We communicate through language and the written word. But what really separates us, what defines our role as conscious beings, is the ability to create, to contemplate those things we don't fully understand. For me, fantasy is about the exploration of the unknown. I spend all of my life living in the real world. Writing fantasy is a way to answer the questions that don't have concrete answers. It delves into the human imagination, the strange, sometimes twisted workings of the mind, and explores a character's psyche by having them face challenges and tasks which don't exist in our version of reality. By mentally placing myself in such situations, I've gained a deeper understand of myself as a person and the thoughts of my characters. Many of the great fantasy authors use their writing as a catalyst to explore philosophy, religion, and politics. It is a genre of subtle metaphors and moral condundrums. Having read so many wonderful fantasy books, which contain underlying political and social contexts, themes rooted in today's society, and complex, well-developed characters, it is beyond me how an English teacher could condemn an entire genre as being inferior and lacking in terms of literary merit.

Humans don't understand the world. We turn to religion, science, and other explanations in an attempt to ground ourselves, to stave off the panic of not knowing how we came to be or where we'll end up. In a constantly shifting universe, our ability to imagine is the only thing we can be sure of.

Truth is hard to define. But, as humans, I believe fantasy is the closest thing to truth we have.