I fancy myself a writer.

Finding my niche

Cover of "Diamond Willow (Frances Foster ...

Cover of Diamond Willow (Frances Foster Books)

I’m one course and a thesis paper away from completing my masters degree in professional writing at Mount Mary College, and I’m feeling pressed to decide on a specific career course. So yeah, I’m a writer: but what kind of writer am I? I’ve written poetry, short stories, parts of novels, but for a long time I’ve struggled to find that one niche that I am really passionate about. Until I recently discovered YA.

Okay, so I’m sure I’ve read plenty of YA novels in the past. I’ve occasionally read some of my son’s books, and he’s getting into that age range. And, I’m quite sure I read tons of YA when I was a YA myself. But until recently, I haven’t really studied the genre.

While taking my poetry course this past fall, I read Crossing Stones,  a novel in verse by Helen Frost, and I just LOVED that book and form. I then read a few of her other books: The Braid, Diamond Willow, and her latest, Hidden. All great reads. I found a lot of inspiration in these books and began to wonder if I could write something similar myself.

Well, ladies and gentleman, I think I may have finally found my voice as a YA writer. For the past several weeks, I’ve been working on a manuscript that is actually going somewhere. I am closer now to having a complete, novel-length story on paper (or in a Word file as the case may be) than ever before. And I’m loving it.

I’m loving the format that I’m using, the language, the characters, all of it. Of course, I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I’m working on something that I could commit to seeing through to the end without getting completely sick of it or finding myself not knowing where to go next.

My current strategy is to keep reading YA novels for inspiration. And it’s working. Right now, I’m reading Clean by Amy Reed. She uses a similar format to what I am doing, telling the story from several different points of view. It’s a great read so far, and it seems like the more I read, the more ideas I get for my own work.

So maybe, just maybe, I am a YA writer. I’m even considering joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Self-discovery is awesome.

Tell me, what do you like to write, and how did you come to it?

Mandy

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