Sunday, July 22, 2007

In response...

There's a lovely discussion about nonfiction down below. Someone wrote this
"I’d like to respectfully but completely disagree. If your sources are incorrect, then your information is incorrect."

If my sources are incorrect then how would you prove this? Would you bring your own 5 sources to dispute my 5 sources? Maybe you have a relative who was THERE and you will bring him or her instead of your 5 sources.

Here's my question:
If your grandma said the man was wearing purple shoes but every newspaper said green am I supposed to go with your grandma or the 5 newspapers?

I think some of you may have missed the point of my post. As I'd said before, everyone perceives things differently. Just look at police line-ups. Of course there are mistakes. People could swear that the lady wearing the blue hat was the one in the bank with the gun... but in fact it was a MAN wearing a blue hat. Do newspapers make mistakes? YES! As I'd said, take a look at my bibliography. Many newspapers said Atas died at 79 but one said 80. For that reason I did not list Atlas's age in my book. But if every newspaper and book says something and your grandma disagrees, again, who am I supposed to go with? An adult nonfiction book might be a appropriate platform to go against the grain and shine a new light on "the facts" but NOT a picture book for children. That is my opinion and I'm sticking with it.



Libby Koponen said...

"My book is about inspiration, about overcoming odds, about determination... and so on. It is NOT supposed to be an exposé on man who died 40 years ago. I was not out to get the insider scoop... the dirt on the man... or anything else. How would that make a book for children better? Why would children care?"


And I also think -- and I know this is a separate point -- that often the so-called dirt or insider scoop is really unimaginative, and basically uninteresting. THere are some people who will always feel that something discreditable -- even if it's just a tiny niggling fact -- is somehow more "deep" or true than any other view. It's weird.

ANYWAY, I think you DID write an inspiring book, one that kids will love AND one that is well-researched and true.

Linda Salzman said...

I find the issue of leaving out his age much more interesting. I'm surprised you left that info. just because newspapers differed. Clearly one (or more) was just inaccurate. Couldn't you find the date of his birth and the date of his death and figure it out? It seems to me finding facts that "disagree" is a natural part of doing research. The response shouldn't be avoidance it should be digging deeper.

Meghan McCarthy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Nonfiction is a tough but challenging area. I write both fiction and nonfiction. I love the difference between the two.

In all honesty, I've found you can research and research and research, come up against a conundrum such as Atlas' age, blink and realize, it's really not that important. But if I was choosing between all those, and there was no government index to find that information, I'd go with the gravestone.

Anna Alter said...

"I've found you can research and research and research, come up against a conundrum such as Atlas' age, blink and realize, it's really not that important."

Well put Candace, I don't think that Atlas's age is a crucial part of your story Meghan, or that kids would miss that bit of information.

As you said this book is about inspiration and determination, which clearly comes through in your story. It is a kid friendly, age appropriate book and it sounds like you took your research very seriously.

Meghan McCarthy said...

Oy. I don't know why I bother. I'm not sharing stuff like this anymore. I research things TO DEATH. If some of you want to question my research then buy my book and then do your own research. You'll soon find out what I'm talking about. No, his age isn't important at all and that's why it wasn't included.

As I'd said below, I don't know why people are attacking my research when they've probably never even read my book! It's ridiculous. If one of you would like to write a story tearing down the myths of charles atlas then be my guest. Go talk to the friend of the friend of the relative of the friend who knew him and base your story on that.


Meghan McCarthy said...

Okay, I think I was getting too worked up about this. I'm the one who posted and posed the questions and then I get people who play along I get all worked up. I guess I'd prefer that this discussion stay hypothetical instead of pointing it at my book... unless you've read it and know that I'm wrong. But otherwise, post away. What I SHOULD do is make up a hypothetical research situation and post that. Then we can discuss it to death and I won't get upset.

If any of you would like to know what is making me the most nervous about my book then send me an email and I'll tell you (can't do it here).


Anonymous said...

I guess what originally put an edge on my responses was this sentence in particular: “My book is about inspiration, about overcoming odds, about determination... and so on. It is NOT supposed to be an exposé on man who died 40 years ago.” At first reading I saw there several things that rubbed me the wrong way: that there is a contradiction between inspiration and facts; that inspiration is more important than facts; and that truth telling is to be equated with exposé. (The truth will set you free!) As just said, that many not be what you meant to imply, but that’s how I initially read it. And then there were those words, “Questions? Comments? Bring’em on!”

There are just too many people out there with no regard for history, who are happy to pass off half-researched bunk because “it’s only a kid’s book,” and your work seems so much smarter than that. So, high expectations yield sharp postings. Sorry if the comments were a little too pointed.

Emily Jiang said...

Hi Meghan, nonfiction is so difficult because those who write and record "historical facts" are people, and people are inherently subjective not objective.