Monday, April 1, 2013

One Writer's Yuck Is Another Writer's Yum

by R.C. Lewis

I first heard this line on the most recent season of "Necessary Roughness" on USA.

"Don't yuck my yum."

I heard it again recently on this very cool episode of "a show with zefrank". (It's four minutes. Worth the watch. I'll wait here if you'd like.)

Here's the basic idea. I happen to like black jelly beans. To me, they are YUM. To some of you (I know, probably many of you), they are definitely YUCK. It's totally cool for you to not like what I like. What's not so cool is if in expressing your dislike, you cross that line into implying there's something wrong with me for liking black jelly beans. Or even going so far as to tell me I should stop liking black jelly beans right now.

Why am I talking about this on this particular blog? Because everything in the world of writing can be a yuck or a yum to different writers.

Where this particularly comes to mind for me is in regards to genres and categories. I write Young Adult, particularly within the sci-fi and fantasy genres. I've lost count of how many times fellow YA authors have reported getting asked one of the following: When are you going to write a REAL book? Are you going to move up to adult books eventually? Do you write teen books because there's more money in it?

Extreme annoyance, and sometimes even rage ensue.

So let's assume these are just snobbish types who look down their noses at children's literature in general, right? But wait. I've also seen the (very) occasional kid-lit writer in one category (say, Middle Grade) clearly showing disdain for another category (say, YA or chapter books).

Why are you yucking my yum?

As a reader, I'm not crazy about straight-up romances. I like novels with romance in them, but Romance as a genre isn't my thing. Still, I can understand why others like them, and that's cool. Read on, Romance readers!

As a writer, I'm pretty sure I couldn't write a chapter book to save my life. Even a middle-grade book would be a pretty big stretch for me. Attempting historical fiction would leave me a quivering, tearful mass of former-writer. As things stand, I don't think I would enjoy it. Does that mean I think FTWA contributor Sophie Perinot is out of her medieval-loving mind? No. It means she's a different writer than I am. Write on, Sophie Perinot!

Don't disparage the other colors in the jelly bean bowl. Insulting your peers can leave you lonely in the end.

Have you ever experienced someone "yucking" your writerly "yum"? Please share. You're among friends here.

R.C. Lewis teaches math by day and writes YA fiction with pride by every other time. Her YA sci-fi novel Stitching Snow will be published by Disney-Hyperion in Summer 2014. Meanwhile, you can find her at Crossing the Helix and on Twitter (@RC_Lewis).


Mel Kinnel said...

Great post and love how you presented it! I often see others turning their noses up to certain genres or even certain authors, proclaiming that those authors' works are garbage. I just think to each his own, as you said. If people don't like something, that's fine. They just need to have some couth and keep the negativity to themselves.

Cindy Dwyer said...

What a great phrase. Yucking someone's yum can be especially detrimental if you are critiquing their work. If you are part of a large critique group and you are unable to distance your distaste for a genre from the quality of the work you are critiquing, you can really harm the writer's motivation.

JeffO said...

It's something that spreads into so many areas of life, isn't it? I try not to 'yuck' other people's 'yums.' I hope I am successful in my attempts.

LD Masterson said...

My thing, as a reader and a writer, is mystery/suspense with a little romance. For some reason, this is more acceptable to my sons than if I wrote "some cheesy romance". For them, I think it it may be a guy thing. I just give them a gentle head slap and move on.

Megan said...

I have a love for poetry. I have a glitch for writing it. People have always asked me, 'why do you like that junk?'. My reply is usually, 'do you like music? Because the lyrics of any song is a poem'. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of opportunities for aspiring poets. Nonetheless, poetry is my black jelly bean!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love this RC! As a romance writer, I face it quite often. I'm going to remember this and ask people to not yuck my yum! Love it :)