Saturday, September 5, 2009
Happy Labor Day!
It's Labor Day weekend - the last weekend of summer.That's a picture of our backyard, and it already looks empty to me.
I'm never sure what to do on holidays like this. I could invite my neighbors over for a barbeque, but they tend to like to catch what they eat from the lake or the woods so I think I'll pass. We'll probably go shopping for school supplies, but none of the schools here tell us what the kids need until the first day of school, which is Wednesday. We try and guess in the middle of the store, big binders? small, vinyl ones? book socks or paper bag covers? It seems like everyone else has these neat lists...
When the kids asked me why we have Labor Day, I told them it was an extra day so they could start their summer reading.
They always remind me I don't really have a job, except a few days a week at the college. They see me writing on the computer, but they associate computer time with fun and socializing.
The weird thing about being a writer is you kind of feel that you don't really have a job, or are part of the labor force because you are usually home when you are writing. Plus, you could always be working. Always. It's kind of like having perpetual homework.
But I feel like we should all probably think about what we do during Labor Day, or something connected to what we do for a living.
In the spring, there was an article in The NY Times that I have thought about for a while now. It talks about the responsibility authors have in choosing what to write about, especially authors who write YA (and probably MG) It's sort of an old question I suppose, but do you think writing about things like cutting, anorexia, shoplifting, all those behaviors encourages it? Or just exposes it? Should those topics be avoided? When we write about drinking or drug use, does it give kids ideas? Or do they just see a reflection of what they already know?
I remember sneak-reading a book (during algebra which might explain a lot) about these two girls who ran away from home and experimented with everything I had never done - or even come close to doing. It was my favorite book for a few months, far more interesting than the Boston adventures of Johnny Tremain. Sin is far more compelling than compliance. That book was a hot topic at sleepovers, yet I still have never done any of the things those girls did.
I don't have an answer to this. I do know that we can't write for the mentally fragile. I also know there is a fine line between avoiding topics and censorship.
In the end, at least for me, I think writing has to reflect what is true. If it's not authentic, it's just not interesting. And when I write, I don't want to feel parental since it's really one of the very few things I do that doesn't involve my kids.
I also know that my answer isn't everyone's. Do you avoid topics that are controversial? or ones that go against your personal beliefs? Do you think what kids read influences them so easily?