The other day I was on the lovely Twitter and came across this tweet from great YA author Hannah Moskowitz:
One of the most compelling things about social media is how nine times out of ten we, without fail, send out to the world the first thing that pops into our minds because if we didn’t, what is the point of sharing. Personal censorship is counter-intuitive.
Bearing this in mind, see how I responded:
Shortly after sending this I started wondering why I did. I mean it really isn’t a response to Moskowitz’s, it is more of an observation. And then it hit me. Now, I know why I don’t end up reading the majority of YA bestsellers and it is not because I actively decide to not do so, it just happens. This personal lapse has been plaguing me for years until now because I discovered my goal with YA is different than most. My goal is to clock in 10,000 hours of YA.
If you are not familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliners: The Story of Success” I highly recommend you remedy this. The second chapter is simply called “The 10,000-Hour Rule” and essentially presents the notion that natural talent is not enough, but constant work needs to be invested in order for one to become an expert. He goes on to mention location, opportunity, and even when one is born, but let’s stick with the work and investment for now.
I have been reading YA since 2005, which is roughly eight years, and I would say 6,000 hours since I have read about 300 or so YA novels, including researching the topic. Even with all this investment, I don’t know everything about YA. Last year was the first time I knew all of the Printz nominees before they were nominated. One of my secret, hidden goals was to know all of these novels, before they were given such deserving accolades. It took me years. When I started reading YA, I didn’t even know about such awards and when I started observing them, I thought they were manipulating my natural joy for YA by telling me what I should be reading rather than simply what I wanted to read. But now, I understand these awards are a reflection of what I want to achieve with YA – expertise.
I find joy and calm in knowing all I can about YA. My passion is not in “The Next Big Thing” but in “The Thing” itself. This is why I wrote, “You have to read 100’s [of YA books] to kind of get it.” As YA Consultant and Reader, my job is to get YA, but I would be fooling myself and you if I said I did. I am a work in progress, and I always keep my mind open when it comes to YA. I am trying to reach a YA state of mind and not simply read YA.
So, I can’t really get upset (Okay, I get somewhat frustrated and allow myself one yelp to the heavens) when I read such varied observations of YA throughout the web. These writers have a different goal than mine but I must not forget to add my voice and neither should you. If there is a great YA book you read, that no one is discussing, post about it across all your social media hubs, tell your friends, mention it to your librarian as a book club suggestion. Get the word out. Now, please excuse me well I try to squeeze in another 100 hours before the end of the month.