This post is really about two things, but they overlap, so it will be written as one. I recently read a YA book called Pure, by the New York Times Bestselling author, Julianna Baggott. I don’t know if I would have known about the book if not for my agent friend Julie. I read YA, and more so now that I am writing YA, but a lot of really amazing stuff gets by me because I don’t always have the drive to search. Pure could have been one of those.
I read it a few weeks ago while I was finishing my novel. In some ways, I think this was a mistake. I was in the throws of romance, all hot and sweaty for my own story, not necessarily absorbing what I was reading. That said, I still think about it with an eye twitch and ache in my chest. I will not review it. I do not feel qualified. I will tell you, if it is not on your radar, let this blog post put it there. Pure was stunning. It was written in third-person, which is not widespread habit of YA writers. It is a lot more literary than some of the YA we may all be used to. It also deals some pretty loaded hands, paints some pretty graphic pictures, glares at some pretty real issues. Some of the description required multiple reads (again, this may be because my head was full of my own book) and even then sometimes the result was more of a brow knit. Don’t let that deter you, because upon another read (now that my head is clearing) I am feeling very differently.
I was perusing the web for blogs on writing, wanting to build my knowledge of what other writers are saying, reading, coloring, and I came across Julianna Baggott’s blog. Baggott writes under three names: Julianna Baggott (her legal name), Bridget Asher, and N.E. Bode. She has published over seventeen novels and poetry anthologies. I chose to check out her blog, and that is what this post in really about.
As a writer, Baggott is prolific. She is not only renowned in publishing, but she is a scholar of books and teaches that craft to future writers by way of Florida State University. She is long married with four children (ahh!). I set about reading some posts and promptly fell madly in love. Her voice as a human being is really bold, full of ballsy goodness and knowledge. And better, she writes not only about writing (publishing, agents, books, authors) but about real life. She writes about herself, her kids, and her vulnerability and humor befits a person that has seen many things of the world and still believes in it.
I have just been clicking through her blog, absorbing her words, laughing, nodding. In one particular post, I found myself nearly tear up. Not from sadness, but solidarity. The link to that post and the rest of her blog is here. She beautifully describes the road to a publishable manuscript as being gutted. I also have described it this way, and I was shocked by it. I will continue to feel completely vulnerable, all exposed nerves and blazing skin, for years to come I hope. And I know, Baggott would agree with me. I also hope for it to all be worth it. Not by monetary calculations, but by the assessment of worth in readers. For all our scowling, we really want to connect.
I highly recommend you peruse her blog. It’s a good read. And, as she says at the end of many of her posts: go buy Pure!