Here are the main ideas and thoughts I took away from Gary Schmidt's "Writing for the Middle School Reader: War, Trouble and Calamity."
What decisions do we make to turn away from childhood and turn toward adulthood?
Our culture perpetuates adolescence because adolescents are good consumers
Evidence: wasteland medium of television, adults refusing to take responsibility, to admit mistakes
Adults send kids the message they shouldn't want adolescence to end
We live in a messy world, decisions are rarely simple
YA books should not be about adulthood, but about turning toward adulthood ... about overcoming ... trying to understand who the hero is ... and story should be first
We understand through stories
St. Augustine on the purpose of story: Should story be beautiful? Yes. Should story be well-crafted? Yes. Should it convey wisdom? Yes. But if you ask these first, you miss the point. Our first question should be, does the story serve. Does it bring joy and laughter, knowledge, understanding, does the reader grow.
After hearing Michael Chabon, I'm interested in The Yiddish Policeman's Union. Anyone read it?
Oh, guess who else I saw (besides Alm Uncle)? Mark Bertram. Noticed him from across an auditorium. Not that he has any idea of my existence, any more than Mr. Schmidt does, but it's fun to spot familiar faces, and force your mother to admit that the people you spend all this time talking about really do exist outside the Internet!
And now I'm ready to crash. But I have time for one incredibly embarrassing story that all you emotionally detached people will probably find hilarious: So it's late tonight, quarter to ten, and my mom and I are walking out of a poetry reading. We pass the doors to the coffee break area, and glimpse people and food. My mom wants a cup of coffee, so we detour. Only when our plates are full of crackers, cheese, strawberries and chocolate do the lights dim, and a man stand up to thank everyone for their support as Friends of the Festival. Cue two red-faced women backing toward the door. Croopus, I will never forget the look on my mother's face. I'm sure she'll remember mine! But why didn't anyone stop us from walking in??? Ah, c'est la vie.