I promised myself when I started this blog that I'd limit myself to posting once a week. The plan was to post on Saturday mornings and Saturday mornings only. The only problem is, I usually have a lot to say, and if I wait, I'll probably lose my thoughts and screw up the whole thing. So, I'm blogging on a Tuesday night, breaking my own rules. Is it still sticking it to the man if you're the man you're sticking it to?
So, I've been cruising blogs and forums, and I'm being told that the term edgy should be done away with. It's too subjective. One person's edgy is another person's happy-happy-joy-joy. Furthermore, claiming to be edgy is somehow uncouth. This implies that you are trying to be edgy, going for shock value only, and have no literary worth or writing ability. Okay, I'll give you that, then. Fine. Then answer me this, why are you clinging to your label of YA?
I can see if you think labels are bad, sure it sounds a little artsy-fartsy and pretentious, but I like your sense of individuality. But if you say using the term edgy is passe, cheesy, and going only for shock value, then why do you rally behind the term YA. I mean, YA is in now, right? It's the only thing selling. It's the best thing in fiction. Adults are obsessed with YA. We say things like "Wake up and smell the YA." We say you need to respect us as authors--we're not just YA damn it! Almost 50% of adults who buy books buy mostly YA! YA is here to stay! YAY YA!
Hear all that? There seems to be no need for YA as a label either. Adults are liking the same books as young adults. Do you know why? It's because young adults, teen readers, are people, too. You don't believe me, do you? There's no need to play down to them. There's no need to let up, slow down, keep it clean, edit out the naughty parts--none of that. Why do we even call it YA? I'm hearing that anything goes, or should go, in YA. Then why not just call it fiction? There has to be something that makes it YA. Something that makes it different.
Now, I would argue that the same goes with edgy YA. There's something a little different, most would agree, that sets apart an "edgy" work of fiction from a non-edgy one. Certain things just get people's panties in a bunch. I know it's subjective, and we all have different tolerance levels, but on the whole, we all know what's going to be considered controversial or not, whether or not we, ourselves, agree. So I think we need the term edgy. I think it's a different genre altogether. I think if it's not a little edgy, it's probably playing down to teens, and should go into that bubble-gummy YA that we all know is out there.
These same blogs and forums tell me that graphic sex doesn't usually end up in YA. They say that makes it adult. Excuse me? They tell me that in YA the sex scenes should be about the emotions attached, not the act. This brings up another little issue--sexism in YA. That's a female description of sex right there. For a lot of males, sure there's an emotion attached, but the physical act is important, too for us. The pleasure is a feeling just as valid as the emotional tragedy that comes out of the act for girls. The YA section in the book store is awfully pink. I'll probably be getting more into this as the semester brews on, but the assumption is that males don't read, so let's write for a female audience. I think that results in a simple self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe if we wrote more for males, or for both sexes, more males would be reading.
A study I saw on the news last night said that 2/3rds of high school seniors in the state of Connecticut have had sex in the past year. I imagine that of that 1/3rd, some are just out of practice, and others are in the "anything but" category. Teens know sex. They watch pornography--at least the boys do--some with permission. I also don't think this is "today's youth" "running wild." Think about when you lost your virginity. Teens know the deal. Leaving it out when it's part of the story is just playing down to them, and there's nothing teens hate more than us not respecting the maturity they do have.
So, I suppose, if this graphic sex issue is such an issue, then there is, in fact, a need to call something edgy. You've just told me that graphic sex is edgy. We all know suicide is an edgy topic. We all know cutting, sex, drugs, and all that kind of thing is edgy. So let's not pretend that there's no edgy anymore. That today we tolerate anything. We know it's not true. We know parents are just waiting to flip out over their kid reading something edgy. We know books do get banned.
So I'm cool with calling myself edgy. I'm confident enough in my writing, story telling, and characters to know that even if I have shocking content--EDGY content--it's not just there to provoke. I'm not selling out and being cheesy. I'm calling myself edgy because I refuse to tone things down and lie to my audience, and I know some people are going to hate me for it. So I say, wake up and smell the edgy YA. William Friskey writes edgy YA fiction, and I wouldn't have it any other way.