Originally posted on July 5, 2012
Those of you who read my blog/website on a fairly regular basis know that I don’t like to criticize writers publicly. That is, I might dislike a book and I might speak of it in general, but I think it would be uncool of me to say publicly, “I really hate that book by so-and-so.” First of all, I know what it’s like to put yourself out there, and I know that it hurts when someone verbally flogs you online. (So maybe “flogging” is a slight exaggeration, but you catch my drift.) Secondly, I have admittedly much different tastes from a lot of other people. If we all liked the same things, all successful writers would write the same things. Fortunately, diversity makes the world go ‘round, and whenever I get a not-so-nice review, I just tell myself that my writing is not for that particular individual and the good news is that person will never buy my writing again (and consequently not give me another bad review!). A bad review means someone has discovered she (or even he, because I have had male fans correspond with me, so I know they’re out there!) just doesn’t like my stuff.
Anyway, I didn’t start this post to wax poetic about how it’s so great that my target audience is discovering itself. I instead wanted to kind of rant about the book I’m currently reading…without naming the book (sorry, just not gonna go there). Let me just say it’s a book that lots of women love and it has been recommended to me numerous times. So I finally started reading it, and reading this book has reconfirmed what I’ve believed for a very long time—I should only read outside the genre I write in. Why? Well, there are several reasons for this:
- What I write is quite different from a lot of other stories and styles you’ll read in my genre. You might wonder why. Well, it’s because I write the kind of thing I want to read, and I guess I’m getting pickier the older I get. Again, though, I don’t want to criticize what others are writing. Many other writers are well loved and it’s for that very reason: They are writing exactly what their readers want to read. They’d be fools to write something different! So the same goes for yours truly. If I don’t like the stories, I shouldn’t read them (any more than I’d expect someone who hated my stuff to keep reading!).
- Part of it comes down to realism. Again, if you read this site on a regular basis, you know I like my stories to be as realistic as possible. The book I picked up has left me with huge doubts, and it’s all in the sex department (“That would never happen!” It pulls me out of the story if I can’t suspend my disbelief). And, let’s face it…if a book is categorized as erotica (or close to it), meaning there’ll be lots of sex, I want to believe in the veracity of the sex scenes. If I can’t believe them, eighty percent of the book is ruined for me. Such was the case with this book.
- Finally, I read a few passages that made me think, “Oh…why didn’t I write such-and-such a scene more like that?” (thinking maybe readers would like it that way) or “Did X scene come off that hokey in my book?” I don’t ever want to mimic or come close to what other authors are doing in my genre. Why? Because I want to keep my writing fresh, and if I become influenced by other writers, I fear that my writing might suffer. So I prefer to read fiction that’s a far cry from what I write, authors like Toni Morrison, John Grisham, Stephen King, Richard North Patterson, Richard Ford, etc. I also read tons of nonfiction, just because I’m a little geeky that way. Those books are “safe” and won’t influence my writing in a negative way. But also, I don’t want to question my writing by comparing it with someone else’s. And, with all this talk about my audience (that’d be you, dear reader, by the way) identifying itself, the last thing I need to do is change what’s working!
So…it comes down to this: all those great romance and erotic novels? They’re gonna have to wait until I mellow with age and start writing something different. In the meantime, you read something of mine you like or don’t like, please feel free to tell me either way! Yes, I write stuff I want to read, but I’m also writing for you!
That said, rant off! Thanks for listening.
July 6, 2012 at 6:35 am
Oh…one last thing. I like strong heroines. I do NOT like simpering, sniveling, weak-willed cry babies. I’m not saying it’s not okay to cry, and I’m not saying it’s not okay to have weak moments, but I want to read about tough women who don’t take sh*t from anyone. That’s another problem I have with this book and similar ones just like it.