Did I accidentally write a YA novel?

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I’m in a pickle.

First I must clarify that I am not in an actual pickle, which is a confusion one could easily have given the kind of person I am. Maybe I have pickle costumes lying around, you don’t know. I’m unpredictable.

Now that we’ve got that de-mystifying out of the way, I’m in a pickle.

Twice now someone in my critique group has thought my second novel seems YA. (Young Adult – the category for teenage readers.) This threw me for a loop and has been bumming me out pretty hard, because while I have nothing against YA, it isn’t… me.

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Writing groups: the good, the bad, and the… okay there’s no third thing.

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Last week I wrote about critiques, which I get a lot of as I’m part of two in-person critique groups. And MOST of the time? I love them! Occasionally, not so much. For fun I decided to do a pros and cons list of writing groups.

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Beard Man

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I ring the bell for Sofia’s apartment, trying to imagine what could possibly be in store for me. On the phone she had used a scramble of incoherent phrases such as “self-actualization crisis” and “my inner flower has been frosted over by the tundra of creative impotence.” Or something like that.

“Olive! Thank god you’re here!” Sofia shrieks as soon as she opens the door. “Okay, here’s the problem. Do you remember how I’ve been feeling really anxious and frazzled lately?”

“Sure,” I say, stepping into her apartment. Sofia starts pacing.

“Well, I’ve been reading this self-help book because I can’t afford a therapist, not to mention those guys assault you when you’re hypnotized—I read about it—and anyway this book has described my life to a T. It’s as if the writer has been following me around, watching me in order to write this book.”

“Does he prefer the tree outside your window or does he leave nanny-cams in your bedroom?”

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