"Write what you love... Love what you write, otherwise no one else will either!"
I see this signature line every time I get an email from Arianna Skye, and every time it catches my eye and makes me pause. The first part, Write what you love and love what you write, is attributed to Dan Poynter, and I love that quote. But the second part is all Arianna and I love that bit too. I also think it applies to this week’s discussion. If we don’t love what we’re writing, how on earth can we expect anyone else to either?
If we’re writing books based on what’s currently flying off the shelves, we may be in for a disappointment. By the time our book is finished and hits an editor or agent’s desk, that particular trend might be winding down due to over saturation in the market and because of that, there may be reluctance to buy the book. Worse, if we’re simply trying to chase the market, there’s a good chance that our hearts won’t be in our stories and that lack of heart is going to be obvious to anyone who reads what we've written.
I’ve read books before that seemed to be written for no other purpose than to make a quick buck. To me, it seemed like the authors had just knocked them out to get in on a trend. It felt like the they hadn't cared about writing the stories anymore than I cared about having read them.
For instance, M/M is very hot right now, but and I know a lot of people who write it well and sell well doing it. I love reading their books – they’re on my keeper shelf – but it’s not a genre I feel I can write believably. I think it would be apparent that I was less passionate than I should be about my subject matter, and readers would come away with the same sense of dissatisfaction that I experienced when I read what I felt were "quick buck books."
I had an eye opening experience at the Romantic Times convention last year. I was chatting with an author friend at the Saturday book signing and a reviewer from one of the online review sites stopped by. My friend introduced me to her and the following conversation was had:
Reviewer: I know you. You write that hot S&M stuff.
Me: *smiling* Oh, I think you have me confused with my friend, Brynn Paulin. She writes amazingly hot BDSM.
Reviewer: What do you write?
Me: Mostly paranormal erotic romance.
Reviewer: Huh. Well, I don’t have time for that shit. (she then walked away)
My friend and I picked our jaws up off the floor and expressed our...surprise...over that exchange. Now, I’m not saying that I think everyone should want to read what I write. Yeah, sure it would be nice, but let’s be realistic—not everyone likes the same thing. Personally, I have no interest in sheik stories—nada. And there are very few cowboy stories that hold my attention. It’s just not where my interests lie, so I understand completely that what I like to write isn’t what that reviewer likes to read.
But as I left the ballroom where the signing had taken place, I had a moment of doubt—well, let’s be honest, several. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I was missing the boat—if maybe I should try my hand at this genre that was so popular. After all, I loved Brynn’s stories as well as several authors in that genre. Maybe I should give it a go.
Just as quickly, I realized to do that would be to chase the market. While I thoroughly enjoy that market as a reader, it’s not a market I’d feel confident in as a writer. So I continue to write what I love and love what I write, because if I don’t love the stories I create, it’s unlikely anyone else with either.