Monday, March 18, 2013

Justification Station

Awkward Model
Me again.

I think I have justification Tourette's or something; I just can't help justifying things that I like. I went to a dinner with a friend at her college the other night, a super fancy, black-tie dinner at a real Oxford College (kinda a big deal; there were three different knives and wine glasses), and everyone wanted to know who the hell I was. Mariah, the friend I was with, introduced me as her friend the writer (she kept specifically saying that I work in Children's Theater: more on that later), making me cringe every time. Why would I be so uncomfortable being introduced as a writer? It's what I want to do after all, it's what I am doing all the fudging time, so what gives? I think it's because I don't have any major publications to my name, so to me, saying I'm a writer makes me feel like a poser. But anyway, this is not the current point I'm trying to make.

So, when you meet a writer, what's the first thing you ask? Duh- 'what do you write?' And for the record, I don't like to say I write any one thing in particular, because I'm still trying to figure out what I like and what I'm good at and what works for me, and I'm interested in just about all types of writing at the moment, but let's face it, I mostly write Young Adult. And for sake of simplicity, that's what I told people. Which is where the Tourette's kicked in.

I should not have to justify why I write YA, or justify it as a genre or art form. I know that I don't have to, but I do anyway, every single time. Over the course of the night, I never once just said I wrote YA without going into my whole rant about how important it is to the development of kid's brains to read good things in their formative years, blah blah blah, (more on good YA later, aka John Green)- you've all heard my rant before. But the rant is not the point, it's the reason for it that interests me. Why justify something you know in your soul does not need it? Why am I so insecure about something I claim to love? I think it's because of just that: I love it.

Cake Cake
I was having this conversation with my housemate the other night, comparing this YA justification problem to the same sort of thing you get when talking about Fantasy and Science Fiction (I never know if you should capitalize YA, SF or Fantasy. I'm pretty sure I look it up every time I write an essay and learn that you don't have to, but I still feel like they should be, so I'll just do it anyway. My blog, my rules). My housemate writes SF, so he knows exactly what I'm talking about. I went into another rant about how SF is such an intelligent way of showing the world today by what it could be in the future and how lots of scientists have found inspiration from inventions in SF novels and then making them a reality and thus advancing technology through literature (HOW COOL IS THAT?) and how Fantasy, as I well know, is HARD to write, much less write well, and then...and then I realized I was doing it again. And what made that conversation with my housemate even more ridiculous is that I was in fact justifying a genre to someone who WRITES SF, and is therefore the last person in the world who would ever judge it as an art form. Yet that fear was still there, that ever-present fear that someone will think less of something I love, that they won't see it for what it truly is and all that it could be based on cultural biases and all the times it has actually been done very, very poorly (coughTWILIGHTcoughcough). I know all of this, and yet I defend these things anyway, even when unnecessary.

Because really, if you think about it, about 98% of people I associate with are not judging me anyway. At the college dinner, I was surrounded by very intellectual people from a wide variety of different disciplines, many of which were writers themselves, all of which were very nice, interesting people. The worst that probably happened in their heads when I told them I wrote YA was a mild disinterest, but not judgement. I love not having to talk sometimes, so why would I use more words than necessary to say something that does not need to be said in the first place? I met a guy that night who was getting a degree in Water Management (also does not need to be capitalized, I know) and he didn't feel the need to justify it to me, and there is not much in this world or the next that I care less about than Water Management. But I didn't judge him for doing a boring degree, I salute him for being passionate about Water Management so I don't have to be. He is doing the world a huge service, and for no praise at all. Because is he does his job well, which this Oxford University student will undoubtedly do, none of us will even notice.

Dude knows what he's doing.
See what I did there? I justified the Water Management guy's degree. I don't know if this is a problem I have or if it's just annoying (probably both), but I guess it's just how my brain works. I've spent my entire life doing the least popular/known activities one could possibly do (Odyssey of the Mind, Color Guard, Sigma Tau Delta), and thus spent a lot of time explaining what they were and why I did them and why they mattered. Then I got an English Degree which was essentially reading books and then writing about the things in them, explaining what happened, why it was so important and why it mattered. So maybe this is not so much a curse or problem as a talent. Yeah, that sounds far more positive. I seem to have a talent for finding a reason that anything is worth doing/important. I should really be a school counselor or suicide prevention receptionists, shouldn't I?

So- the two other things I said ''more on that later" about- Kid's Theater and John Green.

Thing one- the play I wrote will be performed by the North Oxford Youth Theatre on May 6th in Henley-on-Thames for a festival, competition thing if anyone wants to come. Pretty awesome, I know.

Left: Hank, Right: John.
Thing two- speaking of awesome- John Green.

The last few months I've discovered the author John Green, introduced to me by my amazing friend Alex. The first book of his she lent me, The Fault in Our Stars, I started reading one night in December and ended up finishing at around 4am the next morning. I have since read two of his other books, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (which is also by David Levithan, who is also awesome) and An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in Our Stars again, and seen him talk in London with his equally talented and hilarious brother, Hank Green, and I'm sort of, kind of in love. His books are hilarious, realistic to the core, breathtakingly sad sometimes and so so so intelligent. I feel like for every book John Green puts into the world it cancels out like six Twilight books (although there are only 4- he cancels out the future sequels that might exist one day too). I wish he were more well known than he is, however TFIOS topped the New York Times best seller list last year, so I hope he soon will be.

John and Hank Green do many creative projects together, one of which is called Nerdfighting, which is not in fact fighting nerds, but nerds fighting to increase awesome and decrease suck in the world.  Sounds almost too beautifully simple to be true, I know. I'll let John Green's explanation from their website give you a fuller idea of what they are about:

“Hank... I need to make one thing clear: Nerdfighters are not about you and me. Nerdfighters are about a made of awesome book, made by a woman in Australia, going to a made of awesome baby in the united states. Nerdfighters are about raising money and awareness for important causes. Nerdfighters are about building a supportive community of friends... in my pants. Nerdfighters are about stupid beautiful projects and making each other laugh and think with t-shirts and pocket protectors and rants about the situation in Pakistan which sucks right now. In the contemporary world where things fall apart and the center can not hold you have to imagine a community where there is no center... A lot of life is about doing things that don’t suck with people who don’t suck.”

And that, world, is John Green. I kind of want to marry him, if he were not already happily married and all familyed as well. 

Alright, that's enough long-winded dribble for one night. I'm going to bed.

~Maria xoxo


Kerry said...

I can see a huge difference in your writing...this was bold and wonderful and i thoroughly enjoyed it..well thought out as well!!

Maria C. Goodson said...

Thanks, Kerry! That made my day.