Tag Archives: Writing Biz

That One YA Dystopia With The Ridiculous Premise

You know that one YA novel? The dystopia with the ridiculous premise? Well, my fourteen-year-old daughter was given an assignment to write a similar sort of story. Specifically, the assignment was as follows:

Create a dystopia in which one of the rules of our society is either no longer a rule, or is enforced to an extreme. Write a story* in this setting.

(*I do not know what word-count was assigned, but I’m going to assume it was something less than novel-length.)

I struggle to enjoy that one YA novel with the ridiculous premise, but as assignments for fourteen-year-olds go, this is pretty awesome. “Take a piece of our world and change it. Now pour enough thought into it that you can tell an actual story.” I like assignments that require synthesis rather than regurgitation, and to me this is the very best kind.

I’ve recently made peace with the ridiculous premise of that one YA dystopia, but only by treating it as a thought experiment played out as a story, and designed to capture the imagination of the reader. The reader can then play out the same sort of world building exercise my daughter was assigned, and begin thinking about how our world might actually change in the future,  mulling over the full suite of implications rather than going all in on one ridiculous premise. It’s not prognostication, or futurism, but it builds the brain-muscles required for that sort of activity.

The pot is totally calling out the kettle for its fire-blackened state here, of course. I write comedic social satire wrapped in a future that is “plausible” in the same way that distilled water is a useful construction material. I have to carefully maintain some conditions, and occasionally throw some blinders on the the reader in order to prevent them from melting the whole thing down.  But this very exercise shows me exactly where the blinders are when I’m consuming that one YA dystopia, and I’m not very far into it before I realize that the scaffolding of the world has turned into a puddle, and now I’m sitting in it.

I appreciate how much thought got poured into that puddle, but that doesn’t mean I have to love having wet pants.

Naked in Public

Today I published my creative non-fiction story, “No. I’m Fine.”

NoI'mFine-CoverIt’s just 1,730 words long. It’s free. It’s here.

It’s intensely personal and it makes me nervous to have it out there, but I want people to be able to read it, and maybe understand their depressed, anxious, or otherwise mentally-challenged friends.  Of course, in order to accomplish that I let the reader all the way inside my head.

So. Naked in public.

The publishing process–making an ebook out of a Word document–was educational, and very time-consuming. I still don’t know how to add the cover image shown here to the epub and mobi files, at least not without buying software for the job. Also, I learned that I can’t make an ebook “always free” on Amazon. I don’t want to charge money for this, and I certainly don’t want to make people pay Amazon in order to read it.

But the salient point is that it’s available, and you can read it for free, and after reviewing the feedback from a bunch of volunteer beta-readers, I’m pretty sure you can read it on just about any device.

I love a good discussion…

I’ve been waffling on this for some time now, and I think I’ve finally reached a decision. This site (howardtayler.com) will not have discussions enabled when it goes live.

Why not?

I love a good discussion. I like social networks, and I love being part of a community. But being part of a community where I’m the moderator, and the central focus is a lot of work. Aaaand maybe not all that healthy.

I’ve also found that it slurps up a lot of my time. Perhaps this is my ego speaking, but I think people would probably rather I spent time writing words and drawing pictures than reading comments and flushing spam-traps.

It’s a tough decision, though. I’ve been making art online for almost fifteen years now, and for that whole time I’ve been fostering communities and discussions. It’s going to be hard to let that go.