Remember when YA wasn’t a woke joke?

As I’ve discussed many times before, I no longer consider my books about young people to be true YA apart from metadata indexing purposes. They’re books that just happen to feature young characters most prominently.

It has nothing to do with arrogantly thinking I’m so much better, deeper, and more serious than those other people writing teen characters nowadays, and everything to do with mountains of evidence that my style of writing doesn’t comfortably fit into what’s currently popular and seen as YA.

I see my books more as hist-fic which just happens to centre on youths, vs. books about young people who just happen to live in the past. History is more than shallow, fluffy, minor window-dressing to me.

But now we have another major factor at the fore: Woke cancel culture.

Since I decided to go indie in 2014, I’ve gradually drifted away from the trad-pub community. Over the last year or two, I’ve also seriously cut down on the amount of Twitter writing hashtag games and chats I regularly participate in.

The trad-pub virtual community was a friendly, supportive place once. Now the YA corner in particular has become an absolutely toxic clusterwhat over the last few years, and seems to be getting worse on the daily.

At least half of all YA readers these days are grown-ass adults, many of whom proudly admit they only read YA and have zero interest in any books intended for adults. It’s really creepy for an adult woman to announce she swoons over kissing and makeout scenes with teen characters and has crushes on fictional teen boys! A lot of them also start talking in cringey, dated teen slang, like “All the things!” and “So I may or may not be…”

They’re screaming so loudly about wanting to protect the children when they’re the only ones raising the roof over these “microaggressions” and triggers. They’re also rarely part of the group they claim is being so slandered and violated by words on a page.

Even worse, now we have agents and editors getting involved in woke loonery and quickly caving to Twitter mobs. I’m starting a serious cull and unfollowing any agents and writers who are part of Woko Haram.

The scary thing was, none of them were like this when I began following them and read their blogs regularly. Now when they pop up on my timeline, after not seeing them in ages, they’re virtue-signalling their support for woke nonsense.

And of course, they’ve put freaking pronouns in their bios!

This just happened earlier this month. I believe I may have once queried the woke agent in question. Is there any box he doesn’t tick in this word salad mess throwing his now-ex-client under the bus?

It wasn’t enough for Woko Haram, as it never is. Many ranted that he’d not gone nearly far enough, trotting out canned woke phraseology of their own. And they were all baying for Jessica’s blood.

One wokester had the chutzpah to mark up her compelled apology like she were a naughty third grader. Frightening that this loon is a teacher! 

The Tweet storm they were all raging against did nothing but point out the foolishness of dismissing old books. Some of the language was a bit strong, but nothing nearly on the level of the mob which was unleashed.

The markups were done by one of the loons in the baying mob.

After Jessica was dropped by her woke agent, everyone creepily began lining up to robotically thank him. Anyone who asked for proof of how in the world these Tweets were racist was condemned. You’re a hero for making such accusations in YA Twitter Land, but a bully if you dare ask for evidence of such a damning claim.

A few months ago, an associate agent was fired because she dared to like, on her personal account, some of J.K. Rowling’s Tweets and other Tweets supporting her. People who bash Ms. Rowling for daring to acknowledge the existence of biological sex get an automatic unfollow and block from me.

All it takes is an accusation from this woke mob, and everyone immediately rushes to believe it and grab a flaming pitchfork. If a character says or thinks something deemed problematic, that means the writer automatically holds that view too. Everything is viewed through a skewed woke lens, with no room for nuance, context, and intent.

I would never query an agent who used a professional Twitter account to virtue-signal. Some have given free critiques or query priority to people who tick certain boxes or show proof of donating to a political campaign!

So many people in this toxic community have shown themselves as overgrown mean girls who never mentally matured past high school.

These snowflakes need to get out of their woke bubble and see how normal people in the real world live.

Obesity is not awesome

This is a photo of me in November 2008, a month before my 29th birthday, trying on a maid of honor dress for my aunt’s second wedding. (I ended up getting a dark blue halter dress.) It’s obvious I don’t have a naturally small build, but I’m at a healthy weight in this photo, probably somewhere in the 130s or 140s. In other words, a lower plus size.

I’ll never forget the Vietnamese seamstress at David’s Bridal telling me, “You got boobs, you don’t need bra” when I asked about a corset or strapless bra!

This is a photo of me from May 2016, at age 36 and probably close to 200 pounds, looking like a fat kid. I know the camera adds ten pounds, but damn! Even my size 18 clothes were too tight, and I wore as high as a 2X. Every time someone tagged me in a photo on Facebook, I was horrified at how huge I looked. I refused to tag myself in other photos, not wanting to call public attention to my obvious obesity.

September 2016, no longer a mere plus size.

                                         

The photo on the left was taken in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in March 2017, and the one on the right was taken on Lag B’Omer 2017, when I was 37. By that point, I was close to 220 pounds, a size 22, and even more horrified when I saw myself in photos.

As my mother undiplomatically put it when she saw me in person again that June, “You look like you swallowed yourself.”

And keep in mind I’m only a bit under five feet two inches in bare feet. I’m amazed I gained so much weight and lived to tell about it!

This is what a 75-pound loss looks like. I put several decades back onto my life thanks to shedding all that weight. Had I continued on at 220 pounds, there’s no way I would’ve come anywhere close to my dream goal of age 100, or even my minimum goal of age 81 (the age I’ll be when Halley’s Comet returns).

I’ve been in the 144–49 weight range for the last few months, and am finally able to fit into some 10s again. Most of my clothes are size 12 and 14. I also still fit into some 16s and 18s comfortably.

Because the fit of a garment can vary so widely between designers, it’s best to think of yourself in a size range instead of wedded to just one size, even if your weight is stable.

As someone who’s struggled with weight many times during my life, and was within spitting distance of morbid obesity at my heaviest, it enrages me to see SJWs celebrating being dangerously overweight as an immutable characteristic like race, sex, or disability.

I felt strange pains in my chest when I was obese, and had such severe hip pain, I often had to drive places I once easily walked to. There were days I couldn’t even make it 30 feet before the pain became too great!

Because these SJWs are obsessed with idpol and hierarchies of oppression, they have to put themselves into snowflake categories. “Ooh, you’re only a small fat! You’re not nearly as oppressed or special as an infinifat!”

They even call people like me “ex-fats,” forever defining us by how we used to be overweight.

Prepare to be horrified if you check out the “infinifat” hashtag on Instagram. These women (and yes, they’re exclusively women) are dangerously obese, and they’re celebrating this as sexy, awesome, empowering, cute, fun, fashionable, something to be proud of, etc.

The guy below is positively small compared to the delusional “infinifats”!

Source

It is scientifically impossible to be healthy at every size. The HAES cult also hijacked the body positivity movement. Originally, it was intended for amputees, burn survivors, unusually tall or short people, albinos, people whose bodies were different from the norm in ways they couldn’t change. Not people who revel in being 100+ pounds overweight.

No one gets to be obese overnight or by accident. Some conditions, like PCOS, make it much harder to lose weight, but it can still be done. How dare they try to claim not fitting into a chair at a nail salon or being able to find size 30+ clothes is just like racism!

They see “microaggressions” in everything—before and after photos, being weighed at the doctor’s, the very word “obese,” innocuous comments like “That’s so flattering on you,” citing well-established health risks of obesity, everything that falls short of lovingly proclaiming, “Obesity rocks!”

Even if you’re metabolically healthy now, in the prime of youth, the reality of obesity will start to catch up to you once you hit your forties. There’s a reason we never see women my age or older in this cult.

We only have one body per lifetime. Treat yours well instead of junking it with excess fat and making obesity your entire identity.

Why I loathe open concepts

I well and truly cannot understand why HGTV pushes open concept houses so heavily. Unless they’re laid out in the right way, living in one is an absolute nightmare.

I’ve been in many houses and apartments with semi-open concepts I had no problem with, and seen others I like on video tours. What makes them different and better than the magnified studio apartment style so in vogue now is the floor plan.

A home with an L or U shape has rooms located off of halls, or an enfilade-style arrangement where all the common, public rooms lead into one another through archways, pocket doors, or partial walls.

Copyright The Fixers; Source Wikis Take Manhattan 2009

Likewise with townhouses in many large cities, which are narrow and deep by necessity. While the upper floors have rooms located off the hallway, the parlor floor tends to have common rooms leading into one another. Sometimes there are doors; other times there are archways designating each room.

But what I can’t tolerate is a square-shaped open concept house!

Why do I hate this style? Let me count the ways.

1. Walls and doors exist for a reason. They designate each room for a separate purpose, and ensure privacy, peace, and quiet.

2. Not as much space to hang pictures, put up bookshelves, and store things.

3. The lack of walls also equals poor temperature control. In the summer, it’s much hotter. In winter, it’s unbearably cold.

4. Did I mention no privacy? These houses seem designed for joined at the hip families who are constantly together, never doing anything in separate rooms.

5. Someone at the door can automatically see into the entire house!

6. Absolutely atrocious acoustics! You want to watch TV, read a book, or do anything in the living room? Not if people are in another “room” all of ten feet away or right up the stairs! Everything is magnified like a tsunami of unbearable noise—speech, running water, the other TV, kitchen appliances, aluminum foil, drawers being opened and closed, rattling utensils, the ice machine.

7. It feels like being in a gymnasium.

8. There’s a reason studio and efficiency apartments are only meant for one person or couples just starting out. Why increase the square footage of that floor plan for an entire house?

9. Read any old book or historical novel, or watch any film from before about 1950 or historical drama. You’ll see rooms located off halls or a main common room (usually the parlor), not one giant open space trying to be multiple rooms at once. It was particularly important for the kitchen to be located well away from the main rooms and to have a door.

10. Speaking of the kitchen, do you really want guests to see drying or dirty dishes stacked up 10-20 feet away, to smell food all over the house, or to watch you preparing food?

11. You’re constantly all up in everyone’s business by default of having no place to retreat to.

12. Less flexibility for converting rooms to other uses. 

13. They just look cheap and emotionally sterile!

14. Many people are so enamoured of open concepts they gleefully tear down walls and rip off doors in old houses.

15. Since everyone can see everything from any vantage point, it necessitates more frequent cleaning to avoid messes.

16. It just doesn’t feel like a real house!

17. They’re a terrible fit for those of us who love vintage interior decoration and furniture.

Walls and doors will be mandatory in my next home. I’ll specify I only want to see pre-1950 houses, and if a contemporary house is all I can afford, I’ll save up to install walls and doors as soon as possible. Open concepts are truly an architectural abomination, no matter how heavily HGTV pushes them.

Oh, I’ve been persuaded alright!

First things first: I have a great deal of respect for how Jane Austen was able to make a living from her writing in a time and place when the vast majority of women financially depended on a husband or male relatives. I also recognise her technical skills at sentence construction and ability to write very artistic prose. I additionally respect her for being known on her own merits instead of through a husband, father, or brother.

All that, however, doesn’t mean I emotionally connect with her writing. I have a very difficult time reading 19th century literature, even understanding writers in that era operated under much different literary conventions; e.g., overdescribing things irrelevant to the plot, opening with backstory.

Still, I’ve enjoyed other 19th century books which were written under much different sensibilities. What didn’t I like about this one?

1. Opening with pages upon pages of infodumpy backstory! We truly don’t need to know this family’s entire life story down to the most irrelevant details! It’s like Dostoyevskiy insisting readers need 50 pages of backstory to understand The Brothers Karamazov. Hard pass!

2. Overly formal language. I get that people in that era spoke much differently, but were they really that formal all the time?

3. Distant narration. I never felt in anyone’s head, or at least emotionally pulled into the story.

4. Hard to keep track of who’s talking. I’ve 100% been guilty of this myself in the past, but I’ve worked hard to show characters doing little things every so often in a long dialogue scene with only the two of them. Even when we know dialogue alternates, it’s easy to forget who’s on first when all we see are talking heads.

5. Archaic literary constructions. I wish an editor had updated these aspects of the language, like unnecessarily split words (every thing, any one, every one), “shewed” (i.e., “showed”), and &c. WTF was the lattermost all about! Was there something wrong with writing “and so on” or even “etc.”?

6. I didn’t really like any of these people. Beyond the distant narration, no one seemed particularly sympathetic or compelling.

7. I can’t really relate to the idle upper-class of early 19th century England. If they’d done something beyond sit around gossiping, going for walks, and talking about themselves, I could’ve been compelled to care about their lives. I understand women’s lives were extremely limited in this era, but they weren’t all this boring!

8. TELLING! It seems like at least 95% consists of “This happened. Then that happened. X and Y discussed this. Z and Q discussed that. Name felt this. Name felt that. Tell tell telly lots of telling! Infodumpy dialogue. Let’s have some more telling!” There were almost no active scenes. For all the issues I have with Hemingway’s beyond-Spartan prose of “Noun verb noun. Noun verb noun. I drank another vermouth,” at least he told active stories!

9. It would’ve been more effective had we seen Anne and Captain Wentworth’s original relationship, followed by their breakup and reunion years later. How can we give a damn about them getting back together if we never saw them during the first gasp of their relationship or how Anne was persuaded to jilt him?

10. We also never get an active sense of just why Lady Russell is so overbearing and a poor judge of situations and people, nor why Anne still likes her. Merely telling us a character is a certain way does jack to actually bring that out!

11. Too many irrelevant characters who contribute jack towards the story.

12. Total slog! Even after over 100 pages, I felt like nothing had been accomplished, with nothing happening. That’s kind of what happens when most of a story is a summary of events.

After this experience, I’m no longer so hesitant to attempt reading Jane Eyre again (a DNF at age thirteen), or to read another Hemingway novel. At least those are actual stories instead of dull summaries of dull events!

Do adults not want to read about other adults anymore?

Warning: Potentially unpopular opinions to follow.

My entire life, I’ve most preferred to write about young people. Even when my characters age into adulthood, I still see them in my mind’s eye as they were in their younger years. With the exception of parents, I only wrote about people around my age until I was in my mid-teens. In fact, my Atlantic City characters were written pretty unrealistically as adults until I was an adult myself! I had such little experience with writing about realistic adults, they inevitably felt like overgrown adolescents playing at being grownups.

I’ve honestly never had any problem with adults reading books intended for a younger readership. If you’re writing about young people, it stands to reason that you need to be familiar with the category. That was actually what helped me to realize I (mostly) really write adult literature that just happens to have young protagonists, instead of books that would be considered YA or MG by most folks nowadays.

If you write a book review blog that focuses on YA, MG, or children’s lit, it also stands to reason you’ll be reading a lot of that. And many books written for younger audiences are so well-written they transcend age-based categories. If a book is really good, we can enjoy and relate to it in different ways at different ages.

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However, I’ve become increasingly off-put by this undeniable trend of adults now exclusively, or nearly exclusively, reading YA and sometimes MG. I’ve seen many people, YA writers or not, outright admitting that’s all they read, and that they don’t read adult books.

Many times, a trend is so pervasive someone isn’t aware of taking part in it because of social contagion. Take, for example, the explosion in first-person present tense and alternating narrators/POV characters. Of course I don’t think everyone doing that is deliberately, mindlessly following a trend. But when you’ve seen so many examples, it does start to influence you. A lot of younger writers admit they think past tense and third person are stuffy, boring, and outdated, or don’t think books can still be written that way!

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Of the YA published within the last 10 years or so, I most enjoy graphic novels and novels in verse. I also love contemporaries with a gritty, urban setting, like the late great Walter Dean Myers’s books. I’ve been sadly disappointed in a lot of the YA historicals published in the U.S., and really didn’t click at all with any of the other genres I had to read for my YA Lit class.

I’ve revisited a number of books I loved when I was younger, and many times was left wondering why I ever loved them so much. Maybe it was because I now read more as a writer than a reader, but it’s also due in part to how those books are written for a younger audience. Adults want different things out of a story than children, preteens, or teens.

So, yes, I do find it kind of weird and creepy how adult women are openly swooning over fictional teenage boys, announcing crushes on them, feeling fluttery over their kissing scenes, and declaring themselves Team So-and-So for books with love triangles.

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I’m an adult, and never had the type of high school experience often depicted in YA contemporaries. I never dated or went to parties and dances, and didn’t want to. I barely even went out socially with my peers, also by choice. And forget taking part in current pop culture!

How can you relate more to a bunch of high school kids when you’re in your thirties? Don’t you want to read about other adults, with adult concerns, in a writing style meant for adults? There’s certainly a valid time and place for those kinds of stories, just as not all adult literature is going to be Crime and Punishment or Don Quixote. However, we all need a balanced diet, and too much of any one thing isn’t good for us.

I’ve also seen a lot of adults who start talking like characters in YA contemporaries. It’s really embarrassing to hear a thirtysomething soccer mom regularly saying, e.g., “All the things!” “All the feels!” “All the whatevers!” Their real-life writing style is often indistinguishable from that of an actual teenager!

This feels like deliberate cognitive stunting, avoiding engaging with writing intended for adults. Having a favorite or preferred genre (books, movies, music, artwork) doesn’t mean you should exclusively consume it. It makes us better-rounded when we sample from other buffets.