I’m just in a pissy mood today. It seems like little things are all conspiring to irritate me.
My wing stubs hurt so I’ve been taking Clonazepam every night for the last several nights. Wonder if that could be contributing to my overall state of irritation?
The day started out poorly. My security clearance to READ from a database table I’ve been testing on at work disappeared, poof. I had it yesterday. When I came in this morning, it was gone (as it was from all of my project team members). So instead of finishing up my testing, I spent the morning getting my stupid clearance restored. God, it wasn’t even UPDATE access! I just wanted to perform SELECTs off the stupid table.
Then I had to go to a doctor’s appointment, a worker’s comp. related one for my TOS so I couldn’t skip it or reschedule it. It was in town. There was much rush-hour traffic fighting. I hate driving in rush-hour. And I got totally turned around in town and had to doubleback several times.
I read today’s critiques from Critters. To be fair, most of the critiques I’m getting are both positive and respect my author’s notes comments.
My two offerings are a pair of folk tales for children. I plan to send them to Cricket, which has a target age range of 9-14, so I gave approx. ages as my target audience in my author’s notes. But I only provided this info as an FYI so people don’t go “these stories are awfully simplistic, you should consider submitting these to children’s markets.”
But okay, while I’d hardly claim to be an expert on children’s lit., thus far I’ve sold three stories to Cricket and one to each of their other magazines with age ranges above and below Cricket‘s (Cicada: 14+ and Spider: 6-9) . I’ve also got a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology and have co-authored a Child Development textbook. So I’m pretty secure in my writer’s instincts regarding how I handle various age levels. Ergo, I don’t want comments on whether my writing is age appropriate.
I state this very plainly in my author’s notes. I sez:
“I’m *not* looking for people’s thoughts regarding whether these are age appropriate.”
And, while I expected one or two people to comment anyway, here are snippets from three out of the four crits I got today:
“while reading I noted some words that nine to twelve year olds might not understand. Some of these are exasperation, bemused, fickle, luminous, swaddling, and crystalline.”
“However, I question the reading level of the words you have chosen. I know that 9-12 year olds have a wide range of reading levels, but it might be best if you ran the story through some kind of online service to test the reading level”
“it’s been a long time since I was 9-12, but I don’t think they would have appealed to me at that age . . . I’d say aim more 6-9.”
I’m less irritated with this one as it’s more along the lines of “I don’t think I would have liked it” which is a perfectly valid opinion. But still . . .
I know, I know, I get what I pay for. Critters is free. I’m not paying anyone for these. But it really bothers me when people underestimate children and thereby perpetuate the appalling state of literacy in this country. Suggesting that words like “exasperation” and “fickle” should be removed from a story because a child might not understand them undermines basic vocabulary learning. How will children learn new words unless they are exposed to them? (And hell, the fact that this critter–i.e. aspiring writer–thought these were “hard” words for pre-teens is just disgraceful.)
Young children are primed to acquire language skills. Children as young as 18 months have the ability to “fast map” new vocabulary words after a single exposure to it. I wish I could still do that, but unfortunately it’s long gone by adulthood. When well-meaning adults advocate “writing down” to children, it does them a grave disservice.
We need to challenge children, not hold them back, dammit!