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Random howls into the worldThe Writing Life

A Random Howl: Is writing for children “really writing?”

By August 30, 2011No Comments

Okay, friends. Earthquakes, hurricanes, book deadlines, sending a kid off to college: It has all hit me in the last month. I  hope you’ll forgive my silence on this blog.

This morning, I’m just going to post a quick Random Howl. I do this kind of post from time to time when faced with inexplicably ludicrous moments that happen in every writer’s life.

Recently I was toying with the idea of applying for an Artist Fellowship Award in fiction. (That’s not the ludicrous part, although some could argue otherwise.) Only four fellowships of $5,000 are awarded in my state, so the chances were to be very slim. Virginia, I’m proud to say, has no lack of exceptional writers who live and work here. Still, according to the arts commission’s web site, the fellowship application process is “open to Virginia-based writers of fiction.” Why not try? I reasoned.

Turns out, I needn’t have bothered. When I called the commission to check on the grant details, they confirmed what I had already suspected. The award is geared for writers of adult work. Interestingly, I could find nothing in the application itself that would not apply to a children’s book writer, most certainly to anyone who writes YA. 

#12 on the Library Journal's Most Influential Books of the 20th Century

This is all especially disappointing as Virginia continues its Minds Wide Open celebration for 2012: Children and the Arts. 

I love our arts commission. They support lots of programs that would flounder without them, and they have to fight for survival in the General Assembly every year.

But still I have to ask:  What defines a writer’s work as worthy of support? Is the age of the reader the measure of  value? If so, what does that say about what we think is important? How “wide open” are our minds on this issue, after all? 

Are you howling with me?

Meg Medina

Author Meg Medina

I'm Meg Medina, author of libros for kids of all ages. I'm the 2019 Newbery medalist for Merci Suárez Changes Gears. I write strong girls, tough circumstances, and the connecting power of culture. Thanks for visiting my blog!

More posts by Meg Medina

Join the discussion No Comments

  • Darn, Meg, that was the question I was going to lead our interview with! Ack, just kidding : ). Luckily, the Florida individual artist grant *does* extend to children’s book writers.

  • Betsy Ashton says:

    This is another example of gross discrimination. Fiction is fiction. As you note, some of the best works are aimed at children or young adults. Had J.K. Rawlings been looking for support in Virginia, she might have been told that anything for the YA market was unacceptable. And then we wouldn’t have had the Harry Potter series. Small minded people should not be allowed to hand out scholarships. My sympathies, Meg. I love your work — and I don’t have any children at home.

  • Julie says:

    Milagros is one of the most beautiful books I have read. Writing ability or talent should not be judged based on the audience. But quite frankly I cannot think of anything more important than writing books that will turn young adults into lifelong readers. Thank you for your words….

  • Bernadette Hodges says:

    Mrs. Medina…I teach ESL in rural Tennessee and am reading your book Tia Isa Wants a Car to my students. I always talk to my students about the main characters and authors. Could you please tell me where you were born? We think we have narrowed it down to Cuba or Puerto Rico.

    • Meg Medina says:

      Hi Mrs. Hodges! How exciting to know that Tia Isa has “traveled” all the way to Tennessee. Yes, my family background is Cuban. What was the giveaway? I think it might have been the phrase “pisicorre.” Am I right?

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