Last night, my husband and I were hanging out at Third Place Books. As usual, I was looking through the YA section to see what all was going on there. It's pretty interesting thinking back to aught-four when I first decided I was going to write YA. I was so out of the loop not having read much from the genre since Sweet Valley High and Cynthia Voigt's Dicey Tillerman books. So, I read over a hundred YA titles that summer (most of them library books) of all different types, and I've kept on going with it. Now, I recognize many books by their spines without even focusing, and am familiar with writers on every shelf!
I always have this longing in the YA section. Like, I just want to see my book on the shelf! Last night, my husband sat on the floor and read his drum magazine while I sat beside him looking at the books around me. It was kind of a deja vu-y feeling, sitting with him like that, because we worked at a bookstore together from 1996 - 1999. (It's where we met and fell in love and all that.) I joked that we should make out, but he said he'll only make out in YA with me when one of my books is for sale there. Well, there's some incentive, right?
Anyway, I started thinking and wondering whether YA has "room" for my stories. If I have ideas that are fresh enough, but that still fit in the confines of the genre. If my ideas are relatable and of interest to teens. I'd love to think so, but I'm not sure right now. I do know that an idea I've been clinging to with my current WIP just doesn't work. It would be great if it did, but it doesn't. Even when I work out the logistics storywise, it doesn't feel YA. It doesn't belong on those shelves. My big internal struggle has been, should I write it this way and call it an adult novel or should I change that one (major) element to make it YA?
Last night, in the YA section, I decided to change the story. I figured out what to do with the part that was really holding me back. It was weird--and inspiring--because as soon as I'd made the decision, it was like a certain heaviness had lifted from the whole story... and from me. I don't feel so conflicted and uncomfortable over my theme anymore. I think this might just work out now.