Years ago I watched a panel on literary criticism. Just as the panel was concluding, one . . . fellow stopped the panel and said, “Wait a minute. We didn’t talk about which branch of literary criticism is most important!”
He then pointed out that his field—literary criticism in the adult mainstream, was by far the most important. After all, it was only adults who really had the depth of thought and analytic ability needed to comprehend and appreciate the arts. In that moment, I didn’t know what branch of literary criticism was most important, but I was pretty sure who the most pompous critic at the table was.
The other panelists, all women, stared at him dumbfounded, and I thought that they would just walk away, but one of them said, “Wait a minute! In my branch of literary criticism, children’s literature, we’re talking about the literature that will shape the rising generation, create a better world. Nothing is more important than that!” And so the fight began.
I thought about that for days. I don’t believe that any one branch of literature is more important than another. They’re all equally important to those who love them. Even if we have horror fans talking about the latest horror films, it is important to them. Something in that genre feeds the souls of those fans.
Because of this, I have a saying: “Everyone deserves great stories.” Children, adults, women, men, gays, straights, black, white, yellow, and of whatever race or political persuasion they might be of. Every single person deserves great stories!
As an author, it is incumbent on you to provide your reader with your very best, to write stories that will delight them, educate them, and maybe even change their lives.
I sometimes hear writers poo-pooing their own work. I heard a writer try to deflect commentary on his children’s picture book by saying, “It’s just a kid’s book.” I once heard a science fiction author say, “I don’t really give a crap about the Star Wars books I wrote. The Star Wars fans are all twits.”
I never take that stance with anything. I recall writing a little Star Wars novel years ago, thinking that it felt . . . somehow less important than my other work in the field. But a few years later I did a book signing, and a young teen brought a copy of the book that was so heavily used, it had duct tape holding it together, covering every surface. His father told me, “He reads that book every day, whenever he has a free moment.”
So I asked the young man why. He said, “When, I was a kid, my mom was killed in a car wreck, and I became very sad. Then for Christmas a little over a year later, my dad gave me this book, and I read it over and over again. I couldn’t figure out why. Then one day, I realized that reading it made me happy. So I always keep it handy.”
He’d been reading it for more than five years. I’ve heard similar stories from fans of my other books. In fact, it seems that I never write a book without hearing a few stories like that.
So I always try to keep those readers in mind with every story that I write. No book should be unimportant to those who read it.
We never know what terminal illnesses our fans face, what suffering they might be going through, and so we owe it to our readers to give them the very best that we have to offer.
Odds N Evens
Gabriel Troia has a Kickstarter going on to get funding for his comic book Odds N Evens.
The project will only be funded if it reaches its goal.
Odds N Evens is an origin story of four superhero kids created by 12-year-old Gabriel Troia. Gabriel started this project at nine years old with encouragement from his father. After three years of hard work, they now have a full-color, complete digital format story. The next step is to get tangible copies to readers.
Help them reach their goal by following this link.
Of Mice and Magic
If you are interested in Of Mice and Magic, you can get a copy or learn more here.
More than anything, Benjamin Ravenspell wants a pet. But when he buys a mouse named Amber, he gets more than he bargained for. No sooner does Ben take her home, than Amber turns him into a mouse too. You see, Amber has magical abilities, and it so happens that Ben is a familiar—a creature that stores magical energy. Together they each form half of a powerful wizard. Alone, they’re just vermin. Soon Ben and Amber find themselves pitted in an epic battle against a magical enemy who is as crazed as he is evil—and the fate of the world will rest on them learning to work together.