Wellness Wednesday — Cross Training (Squats + Dystopian YA)

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And I’m back with another edition of my series on cross training in both running and writing. So! Let’s get right into it, huh?

Squats + Dystopian YA

Squat: Foundational leg strengthening exercise where you bend your knees while holding your body steady. Your knees must not cave in or out, and they must not go in front of your toes — weight must stay back on your heels. It takes some practice to get the form down, and once you have it, you’ll be able to feel it.

Squats are one of the first things that I had to master in my long journey toward healing my IT band. It’s hard to do it correctly and really easy to slack off and get lazy. But when you get it right, you can feel the burn in your quads and your calves, and you know that it’s helping. You know that you’re doing it right.

Dystopian YA: Young adult fiction that is set in an often not-so-distant future where the world has devolved into something truly terrible. It’s often up to a single girl (or young woman) to sort of save the world and make things right and equal again. These books can either be well-done or terrible, and a lot of times, it’s up to the reader to decide (and readers will disagree with each other).

I said that squats have been a foundational exercise for me in the quest to get healthy again. Dystopian YA is similar, as weird as that sounds. Let me try to explain.

I’ve always had stories in my head, but I never knew how to a) make them last to be novel-length and b) what age group I wanted to write for. In my very last semester of college, I wanted to change that. I wanted to write that novel. So I registered for a creative writing class where the goal was to write a novel-length piece of fiction, and thought I’d spend the whole time writing. Nope. The first thing we did was read The Hunger Games. Yes, you read that right — the first time I read The Hunger Games was for a class. And I’ve been using dystopian YA to inspire me ever since.

I want to be clear about two things, though. First, I’ve never actually written anything that could be considered dystopian YA. The reasons for this are simple enough — I don’t have the type of imagination to come up with that type of intricate world. Things would fall through the cracks. It isn’t my strength. I mostly enjoy reading about strong girls coming of age in a place where everything is stacked against them, and then reading on as they persevere. Second, I’m pretty critical of dystopian YA. If it’s not done well, I’m not afraid to say so. That probably stems from the fact that my first experience with the genre was The Hunger Games — I started at the top. It’s hard to compete with Suzanne Collins, but believe me, people try.

Are there any foundational genres that inspire you? Let me know in the comments!


Originally published at www.browneyedtwentysomething.com on January 11, 2017.