Saturday, November 4, 2017

Blazing A Trail

Following an established trail is really easy to do.

I’m a mountain biker. My favorite rides are on smooth, established single tracks. The excitement and the adrenaline rush I get from peddling such trails cannot be compared (except to writing, of course šŸ˜‰). It’s incredible that there are people who create these trails. How do they do it? With shovels and rakes and repeatedly riding the new trail—it takes work. A lot of work, with little chance of success.

Think about it. When these people had set out to build a trail, initially they didn’t even know if it was going to be popular or not. They just thought they would enjoy it, but they had no idea if anyone else would. The experience would be the same for any sort of pioneer. And truly, creating a niche in writing is much the same. It’s kinda scary to blaze a new trail—whether on a mountain or on paper.


People tend to go with the crowd. They’re like a river—and the water isn’t going to randomly shoot off in a new direction and create a stream. Wherever the river goes, the rest of the water will go. And people, like the water, are more inclined to follow other people rather than go a new way.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But we shouldn’t be following something just because everyone else is. We need to think, critically think about what we’re doing and what we’re supporting.

Consider dark, gritty YA literature. It seems perhaps that many people have forgotten why they read it. Is it just because that’s what other people like? So they have to like it too?

And what about the authors writing this? Are they writing it just because it sells? While the readers are buying it just because it’s all there is on the shelves?

Either way, I believe it’s time to move away from the crowd in this regard and step out in a new direction, a direction toward clean YA literature. 


Granted, it won’t be easy. As a reader of YA, I spend hours going through reviews looking for good novels, and am usually disappointed by what I see in bookstores. Clean YA novels are few and far between. 

As a writer of YA, I understand what it must be like for the authors: writing is how they make money. If they keep writing novels that publishers reject…no money. No publication. Time to give in and change over to that gritty content so you can get published, right?

I hope not. Because if no one stands up to change YA, the cycle is going to keep going around and around, with readers settling for dark content, and writers only writing dark content. The blame isn’t on the publishers, either; some of them may want clean YA, but the writers are only writing dark YA, and that’s what sells, so…. I think you get the picture. The readers, the writers, the publishers—no one group is driving the process, but it still goes on because we’re all part of it.
And that is why readers, writers, and publishers can all stand up to break the cycle.  

Just like making that new mountain bike path, it’s going to take planning and a bit of muscle and a lot of courage to blaze a new trail. We need to see what our goal is, gain momentum, and keep the momentum going until we have a new trail. We then need people to begin going over it until—bam, the trail is used so often and no one thinks twice about using it. 

We want reading and writing clean YA to be like that. Easy to find, easy to get published, something that’s going to be around for a long time. 

Accomplishing this doesn’t involve demolishing the dark YA niche; this goal is not to destroy, but to build something else which we stand for: clean content in YA. Yes, blazing a trail is hard—whether it’s on dirt or in literature—but it will be well worth it as we create a new, smooth track, something teen readers in the future can enjoy.

~ audrey caylin ~


  1. Gorgeous post, Audrey, great job!

  2. Beautiful post, Audrey!!!! I love the mountain trail analogy, so accurate!


  3. I really like this, Audrey!!! We all need to make a new trail! This is very well written.

  4. Beautiful post. And you're right. I hope more and more people see this movement for what it is and fight the good fight. Love your posts! <3
    Keep it up, Rebels. I know y'all will make a difference in this. I can feel it.


    1. Thanks, Ivie! It's been amazing to see this movement pick up momentum. I hope it keeps going and that we can make an impact!

  5. Yes, yes, yes! I want clean YA to take the place as norm. Gritty YA should be a surprising thing to find, not something we can't seem to escape! And yet that's how it is.

    Amen, Audrey. Let's blaze a trail.

    1. I hope that day comes very soon, Lila! It would be amazing to walk into a bookstore and see an entire shelf of clean YA.

  6. Such a great metaphor--I love it!

  7. Great post... really love how you imaged it out ;)

  8. "And people, like the water, are more inclined to follow other people rather than go a new way" < Water also takes the easiest route. But banded together, we can be strong enough to carve a new path.

    This is a really well-written post, Audrey, and a super-important topic! :)
    - Jem Jones

    1. YES. I kinda wish I'd added that in xD You should be editing our articles, Jem ;)

      Thank you! <3

  9. Yes!! It can be hard to go off and make a new trail. But it can ALSO be fun and exciting, and once you've made the trail, getting to present it to others, and see them enjoy it, is epic.

    So thanks for starting to make a new trail - and I will happily journey down it!

    1. Absolutely! Blazing a new trail is by no means all work and no play.

      Thank you, Julian! We're extremely grateful for everyone who supports this movement :)

  10. Yeah Audrey!! I'm going to quote this!

  11. This was excellent!! Great post!

  12. Love this post! And I absolutely agree: finding clean YA is so hard, so we definitely need to write and promote the good ones we find!