Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Backspace Lesson #2: Be Positive!

The Key Note speaker at the Backspace Conference was none other than Jonathan Maberry, author of PATIENT ZERO and ROT AND RUIN and a slew of other books. I ran into him in the elevator after his talk and chatted for sixteen floors with him and his wife about absolutely nothing author-related. It was great! Published authors seem intimidating at first glance, but at one time (long, long ago), they were in my shoes, so imagine all the tidbits of wisdom they can share?

But I'm getting sidetracked...

Jonathan Maberry's message focused on The Power of Positivity. He emphasized that the world, especially the internet, is being crushed by a kind of gloomy despair, and at the end of the day, no one needs that. You don't need it. I don't need it. That girl in the third row wearing a pinstriped hat and glasses? Nope, she doesn't need it either. Bad things happen, true, and I'm not the kind of person who glosses over that fact, but for the things we can control (our tweets, our blogging, our actions), wouldn't we all be better off if we took a positive spin on as many things as possible? Definitely!

So, in the spirit of Positivity, I'm making a goal, right here right now, to bite my tongue on nagging complaints. 'It's hot.' 'I'm tired.' 'That celebrity's hair is stupid.' Blahblahblah, you get the idea. Will I catch them all? *shakes head* But I'll try my hardest. How about you? Any plans to be more positive? It's not going to completely alter who you are, but it might make your day a little more colorful. :)

To wrap up, let's (briefly) discuss a certain opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal. I won't link to it, because A) you've probably already seen it and B) well, I'll just bite me tongue on B). Anyway, a quick-and-dirty of the article is that YA is too dark, too pushing-the-envelope, and kids shouldn't be exposed to it. As a non-parent, I won't say that parents just don't understand (come on, Will Smith? DJ Jazzy Jeff? Yeah). But I had two parents who tried their best to give me a fantastic childhood free of the bigger and badder things in life, and I believe they succeeded, but not everyone grows up in Sciotoville, Ohio, and graduates in a class of 37 kids.

The world has teeth, and doesn't it pay to give kids/tweens/teens/young adults as much information as possible? Again, I'm no parent, but sex and drugs and rape and oppression and so many other things live in our great, big world. Education is our first line of defense. Read with your kids, and try not to judge a book by its cover. The marketing team that designed it may or may not have read the book. But, seriously, did I mention I'm not a parent? This is my own opinion and should be taken as such.

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them!



Christine Danek said...

I'm trying to stay positive. If not, nothing gets done. Negativity definitely makes one suffer.
As for the article, I read it, and as a parent, I should determine what is best for my kids not someone else.
Do I find YA dark? No. I write dark. Will I allow my kids to read it? When I think they are mature enough to handle it. Will they go behind my back if I tell them no not yet? Probably. I would hope that I would be able to talk to them and discuss a lot of the "darkness" so they can make good judgements.
The world is full of dark and light. If we don't discuss both with our kids, we may be only hurting them and ourselves.
The point is life continues around us, our kids are going to hear about a lot of things we may not want them to hear sooner or later. It's my job to expose them to it when I think they are ready for it.
I'm not sure if that made any sense and was super long. It's early. :)

Escape Artist said...

Don't know what's happening over there with censoring and stuff, but to give you an idea what it's like here in the land of oz...Hangover Two was 15+! That's it!
Not 18. Nope 15+ and that means if you're fifteen you're in! So I guess the point I'm making is the world is slammed with 'real' every second. The internet, the news, the damn television and now even advertising!
Do I agree with all of it? Nope. Do I wish we had stronger guidelines for what's being pushed in front of us publicly? You bet! You see I don't like the idea of decisions being made for me and by allowing a lot of what I'm seeing and what my children are seeing, that decision is being taken from me!
So following that line of I think we should only write books about fairy tales and leave it at that. Nope. Write real. Write dark. Write scary. Write whatever the hell you damn please, and let the consumers at the other end decide what they want to consume.
I just get a little riled when decisions are made on our behalf! Can you tell?

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Laura said...

I think I got all the negativity out of my system with my Mercury in Retrograde post yesterday. But, seriously, that was all pretty weird stuff...

On another note, I think we as human beings decide our own levels of happiness or misery. Every day, we decide whether we will let adversity get to us, roll off our backs, or bog us down.

I say, decide to be happy. Every. Single. Day.

Great post!

Alleged Author said...

Yay for looking at the positive! Now I have to find that article.

Escape Artist said...

Don't know why my comment liked it so much it decided to post itself silly!

Michael Barron said...

I was a big fan of what Mr. Maberry had to say as well. While I do think it would be impossible to stay completely positive 24/7/52, I do think that we (including me) complain about little things and really these complaints aren't helping anyone. I was trying to work on this well before the conference but found what he said extra encouraging.

As for the too dark/edgy YA novels, I also agreed with what was said throughout the conference. As long as it fits the story throw it in there! But then again, I think that's the case with all forms of entertainment not just YA.

But like you said, I am not a parent. I liked Christine's comment speaking as a parent.