Trying to Come Back from a Hiatus

I will have to think what to do with this blog/website. I mean, I am on a hiatus, I suppose, though none of it was planned. I am just spending too much time on Tumblr (you can find me on Jefflion.tumblr.com) and I didn’t really have time to dedicate to this blog much.

Also, this website is 7 years old, and as such, certain things are very outdated here. As fun as looking back may seem, in many ways, I want different things from a personal website than I did back in 2007. I keep wanting to make Jefflion into a writing/review blog or the like. I want to start writing interesting blog posts and the like, as often as I find the time.

I admire certain people’s ability to blog on a regular basis. I always feel bad for neglecting my website. It’s not because I don’t care, it’s – paradoxically – because I care too much and I don’t want just “anything” posted here. Which usually means I won’t post anything.

Anyway, I will probably try to change a few things here, add/delete certain pages, etc. Make a different organization, perhaps. I will also try to blog more about stuff such as writing or other things I’m interested in – you know, stuff I usually do on Tumblr. I guess I will try to connect Tumblr and this blog as much as I can because I feel pretty relaxed on Tumblr and I like it there, but it’s not my personal website and I love jefflion.net dearly, even thought I don’t always show it.

In other news, I am doing my PhD in Canada, so that’s something to talk about (I suppose). I arrived about a month ago (only a month ago? I can’t believe it) and so far, it just seems… familiar. Everything is so familiar, in a good way I mean. I am waiting for a culture shock but it’s not coming. None of it is a bad thing but I didn’t expect it.

February Writing

After not writing anything here for 2 months, I’m back. Or, rather, I want to be back. I feel constant shame about not updating this site often. So, I will try to post as much as I can in February. I have no idea how this will go, nor if I’ll be able to keep the regime. Let alone find interesting stuff to post. But let’s try and see how it goes.

By the way, I am really thinking of turning this site into a writing blog (of sorts). I don’t think I’ll ever share my writing, but I might as well focus the blog on it, with occasional posts about other subjects. (When I say writing, of course, it can be anything, from thoughts about writing to movie reviews).

I guess the blog needs some focus.

Speaking of writing (and reading), you may also find me on Goodreads: Jefflion

NaNoWriMo is Here

That’s that time of the year, folks. NaNoWriMo time. November is a novel writing month, and as usual, it makes me excited. This time, though, I am busy with other things so I honestly don’t have idea how I’m going to accomplish the whole “write 50 000 words in 30 days”. On the other hand, I can’t help but wanting to participate, so… here I am.

I discovered NaNoWriMo in 2010, at a particularly weird moment in my life, when I desperately needed something to uplift me and take my mind off the harsh reality of being an university educated person who can’t find a job. It was just a slap in the face, you know? I needed something to look forward to, something to call my own, an accomplishment of some sorts, and NaNoWriMo provided a perfect outlet. My novel, “A Postcard from Hades” was born there, and it still holds a special place in my heart despite being imperfect and, well demanding more work.

This year, I’m writing in English (good luck to me about that). I figured it would fit the story and it will help me practice my English. I feel passionate about and really invested in psychology behind it, even though I am not completely sure how to build the plot or how dark it’s going to be. (I am not really into dark stories per se – I like to read some of them but I can’t write them well. No idea why).

The first thing I had with this story was a title, back in 2010 or so. The first plot idea revolved around a supernatural girl who can harm humans but wants to avoid it at all costs and her love interest who helps her. Somehow (no idea how) it evolved into a story about succubi and incubi and a complex method of their survival and reproduction. The core of the story, though, is identity and figuring out you are not who you thought you were. There are many things to explore here.

Something weird happened to my custom theme (yes, the one I worked so hard to design and publish) so I’ll use this one until I find something better. It’s not perfect, but it supports custom post formats – we’ll see if the ability to post short tidbits and microblogging-style things will make me update more often. In other news: It was Jefflion’s birthday on September 12th! My site is six years old! Let’s drink to that. :P

My Problems with “New Adult” Genre

readingWikipedia describes “New Adult” as “a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-25 age bracket. The term was first coined by St. Martin’s Press in 2009 when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.”

Without going into a long rant about this emerging genre (and whether it’s really necessary or just a marketing fad), I can’t help noticing that yet another genre is defined through the age of its protagonists. While it’s understandable that a book for kids may have an eight year old protagonist, I simply don’t buy the whole age of readers = age of characters (or the good old YA rule: “your characters should be a few years older than the target audience because the kids read up”). In a way, I understand why this is happening, but I think it’s very limiting. After all, you can have a very adult book with a 5 year old protagonist. Also, as much as teens (or readers in general) like to read about characters who are “like them” I do not buy the idea that readers are so narcissistic to only want to read about characters who are in the same position as them. If we go this road it can easily slip into a belief that readers want only to read about people who share their gender, race, ethnic group, sexual orientation… see where I’m going with this?

The problem with YA and New Adult genres is a different one, but it still operates under the assumption – a false one, I’d say – that readers only want to read about themselves. The whole publishing world and marketing operates under this idea, and it drives the industry. So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There is also another problem when it comes to the New Adult genre. On the surface, it basically deals with protagonists of a certain age and common issues in this age group. The thing is, some of the issues such as sexuality, identity, finding your place in the world – they are all common in the teen/Young Adult group, too. Perhaps not in the same way, but they are present. I have a feeling the emerging new genre only makes a sharp difference at the arbitrary line that is 18th birthday/high school graduation. While it’s true many people’s lives change after high school, it is a transition and not a clear cut.

Having genres so clearly divided is  not productive because once you start thinking about the necessary age you need to give to your protagonists, and about the issues you can (and can’t) explore, it becomes limiting, and it is never a good thing with fiction. I admit, I understand the need that books for children should be limiting in this sense (if nothing else, because of your readers’ reading level) but I don’t see it for other genres, including Young Adult or New Adult.

In the basic sense, it is limiting because you can’t just have a book that will follow your protagonist from the age 14 to 20. If you want to market your book, you need to either make it YA (and stop at high school graduation) or a general book for adults – but in this case, the tone and voice of your novel must be different. Similarly, you can’t have a mixed group of characters aged 15 (your POV character) to 25. It just breaks the genre rules.

I am sure you can all name some successful books that easily break these rules. But it’s still true that rules exist for marketing reasons and these reasons are not always beneficial for writing itself. They are limiting without a reason. Because God forbid that a teenager might want to read about a character in her 20s.

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