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Shakespeare and YA

YA Highway teen contributor Kristin Briana Otts is almost not a teenager anymore. Her novel, City of Shadows, is about to go on sub to publishers. For more about Kristin, visit our Who We Are page.


So, if you write commercial YA, you’re pretty much just like Shakespeare.

No, seriously.

To quote my English professor – if you’re popular, you can’t be an artist. Thanks to the stereotypes that surround writers and musicians, most people assume that “successful” or “popular” means that you’re selling out. You’re pandering to the masses instead of churning out poetic and incomprehensible prose. A YA novel can’t be real literature because it’s not obscure and intellectual; therefore, YA writers are not real artists.

Well, you’ll be happy to know that this mentality has been around since Shakespeare’s time. Yes, Shakespeare. He also wrote meaningless drivel that wasn’t considered “real” literature. Why? Because it was popular. Because it was entertaining. Because it appealed to peasants and royalty, noblemen and farm boys.

So the next time someone asks you when you’re going to write a real book, just smile and remember that Will Shakespeare would be proud of you.

~Kristin Briana Otts 
Kate Hart

Kate is the author of After the Fall, coming January 24, 2017 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. A former teacher and grant writer, she now owns a treehouse-building business in the Ozarks and hosts the Badass Ladies You Should Know interview series.

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  1. "So the next time someone asks you when you’re going to write a real book, just smile and remember that Will Shakespeare would be proud of you."

    Love <3 I want a big poster of that on my wall (or desktop perhaps)

    Great post! :) It's unfortunate that people think like that though, especially an English professor (!)

    It's so ironic that Shakespeare's work wasn't considered literature back then, yet who do you think of first when people say 'literature' today? And it's exactly because it was popular and appealed to everyone. Snap.

  2. Sounds like your English prof has some frustrations. Wonder how many unsold, rambling literary manuscripts he has cluttering up the drawers of his desk?

    I know a woman like this. She's quick to judge other people's efforts and dis things that don't appeal to her. I ignore her prejudices. Why should I waste my emotional energy when there are so many thoughtful, educated, realistic people I could be talking to instead?

  3. I think my English prof was being ironic when he said that you can't be a "popular" artist. His point was that this is the general stereotype that most people subscribe to. But I don't know. He likes to pick fights lol.

  4. In that case, he sounds like a cool teacher. :) I'm glad

  5. Sing it, sista.

    {{{huggles Complete Works of Shakespeare}}}

  6. Nice post, Kristin! Ah, stereotypes.

  7. Hi! I met a few of you ladies in NYC last weekend, and it was a real pleasure. Kaitlin, thanks for stopping by my blog so we could follow each other and keep in touch. :)

    Happy writing!

  8. Oh my, you made me feel so good!! <33


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Item Reviewed: Shakespeare and YA Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kate Hart