Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Fickle Finger of Fate

There’s a great post on Romancing the Blog today about how difficult it is for writers who want to try different genres and still please the public. We’re told to brand ourselves to have the best career – find a niche [start writing those sexy red-headed vampire-accountant-turned-werewolf stories] and fill it. Then – keep filling it until it overflows. If we decide to branch out and be ‘unique’ which is what all the publishers are clamoring for, we run the risk of alienating fans who will have a major cow if suddenly we’re writing about sexy BRUNETTE vampire-accountants-turned-werewolves. They’ll crucify us for not giving them exactly what they’ve come to expect from us over the course of seventeen best selling novels. [Would that we all should be so lucky to have seventeen best selling novels.] Suddenly there is ownership. You can’t change! We love your stories exactly the way they are. EX-ACT-LY!

Aaaagh! Then you have the editors who send rejections like this: “This has been done to death.” “This story is like every other one out there.”

Egads, what’s a writer to do?

I must confess, as a reader, I’m guilty of both forms of bad behavior. I’ve been turned off by favorite writers who’ve changed their tone and their voice a little and not gone back for subsequent books. I told myself it was because the quality of the writing changed. And maybe it had – after a few blockbuster bestsellers, the drive to produce must become overwhelming. The clause about no-editing gets written into the big contracts and to meet a deadline a writer cuts corners. Heaven help me if my career comes to that. I want to pledge that I won’t let it – and I’ll do my best. If it ever comes to turning out junk just to meet a deadline, I will quit this business and find a nice quiet office where I can answer the phones and do some light typing.

I’ve also been guilty of saying, “Sheesh, this book reads just like her last one, two...three? Oh, no wait, I’m sorry. The heroine in THIS one doesn’t have long hair and green eyes. My mistake.” Yeah, I’m bad. I’m sorry.

What to do about it? As a reader, I say let’s get over the idea that a writer dare not surprise us. Give your favorite authors the room to grow and lead you in new directions. If your favorite historical author pens a sexy sci-fi, don’t get mad – give it a try. If you don’t like it, wait for her next historical to come out and if she never goes back to her old genre – oh well. There are other historical authors out there who need your business. It’s really no biggie because that author just picked up a handful of sci-fi fans. If you’re on your tenth installment of ‘sweet, shy librarian meets Celtic hunk with long war braids and a rumbling brogue to battle ghosts from the past’ and you’re sick of it, tell someone. Leave a note on a publisher’s blog – they all have them these days - and beg them not to demand their writers churn out same after same after same.

Enjoy the spice of life and try something different. If we all did that, as readers, we’d all be a lot busier as writers and I think everyone would be much happier all around.

Just my two cents for the day.

In other news:

DH and I have been married fourteen years today! We're going out to dinner and then to a place called Maggie Moos for dessert. I may complain now and then about him, but all in all, I got one of the good ones. There aren't too many out there.

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