Friday, October 07, 2011

VAQ, or Very Annoying Question

If you're a children's writer, you occasionally (or perhaps not so occasionally) get asked this VAQ (Very Annoying Question): So...when are you going to write a novel for grownups?

Children, I might add, never ask me this. Only a certain kind of adult, the kind who look down upon children for R2C2E (Reasons Too Complicated To Explain)*.
To them I say, just look at the letters I get from children. Just look. They are voiced, genuine, no pretensions. They are illustrated! Does it get better than this?

A letter I received in yesterday's mail read:

" I want to kno. Did you always write from wen you were little and how did you now how?"

Need I say more? Children are as real as anyone else, perhaps more so. They are the finest of audiences.

They are us, because like it or not, we grownups still carry around remnants of our own younger selves, like so many backup copies waiting to be accessed when we need them. Sometimes those are our genuine selves, bursting with questions, seething with just anger, or filled with possibility.

Why on earth would I want to write for anyone else? Especially people who ask those VAQ's.

And lest anyone think this acknowledgment of the young is a sentimental affectation of our times, here's something about child artists of prehistory from NPR's 13.7 Cosmos and Culture Blog. As a former child wall-writer, I find this rethinking of prehistory exciting--if overdue.

*anyone get the Haroun reference?


  1. What a great post, Uma, and really, that's a VAQ indeed! (I loved the Haroun reference, I have to re-read it and give it to my son to read). Another thing that bothers me is the lack of academic interest in children's literature -- particularly from literary fields (not education or library studies). There are some amazing scholars as one can see at the ChLA conference, but I wish there could be even more.

  2. I feel fortunate to have found ChLA, Lilian, but yes, we still see all too many slighting comments about the work of writing for young people.