Thursday, March 5, 2009

What Do You Love?

"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.


Margaret Yang said...

"I don't have time for that shit."

Gosh, could that reviewer be any ruder? I am not the world's most poised human, but I could think of about ten thousand other things to say right there, just off the top of my head.

On another note: sometimes we don't think we like a certain genre, and then a book comes along that shows us that maybe we do. I never liked time travel stories until I read The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, which absolutely blew my mind.

So, who knows, maybe you'll like a cowboy story someday!

Arianna Skye said...

Wow! That's rude! Especially to say it right to your face! Glad that you stuck to your guns and wright what YOU love. Thanks for the kudos, by the way. I'm thoroughly tickled.


Andrea Dickinson said...

Maybe you'll like my cowboy! I'll let you read him when I'm done with him. It could be awhile. He's really hot and I'm really in love with his body. :-)

Kim Dare said...

Some people just leave me speachless...

All I can say is I hope that one day that reviewer says something as rude as that to someone who isn't too polite or two shocked cut her down to size!

You're 100% right to stick to what you love. Firstly because your paranormal er's are fantastic!

Also because I think you're right - a reader can always tell when a writer is jumping on a bandwagon for money.

StealthWriterX said...

Ironic isn't it? Writers are her bread and butter, you'd think she'd have a little better sense in proper manners.

She's an idiot. I read everything you put out. I was a fan of the great BG before I ever met you and am an even bigger fan now. I know that when I pick up a Green, it's going to be sweet, sexy, sensual... it's going to touch my heart and make it ache beautifully. I'm going to CARE about the heroine and hero and wish I were the one the hero wanted. I'm going to be transported into the mist of sexual tension, yearning, magic, and something indefinable that is only in a Green book. Yeah. I heart me some Bronwyn big and much. I had a "hard-on" for her work from the moment I read the first one and I continue to be a drooling, slobbery mess as I wait (ummmmm, imPATIENTly) for the next one.

Hot damn, I want you...erm, your books. ;)

Arianna Skye said...

Margaret! I read your comment and totally missed the part about Connie Willis. I LOVED The Doomsday Book!

And on a side note, I wasn't a real fan of Erotic Romance until I read a Bronwyn Green book. Now I'm even writing it! BTW, Wheres's that sequel? Hmm???


Molly Daniels said...

What was she drinking? That IS rude!

I didn't like vamps until I won Dakota's first book, and she managed to hook me:)

Bronwyn Green said...

Thank you guys so much for all the sweet things you said - I really appreciate them all!

Sandra Cox said...

People are amazing aren't they? All I can do is shake my head.
I love paranormal.

Anny Cook said...

Heh. Think I met up with that lady, too. She told me she doesn't read funny sex... cause that's not "hot". Hmmmmm.

A wise editor told me to write what I had a passion to write. All else just doesn't count. Hang in there!