I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the world to go back to normal. I’m not talking about masks (although I hate them) or the constant media barrages about how we’re all going to die if we don’t do this or that. That sort of crap’s always going to happen to one degree or another. No, I’m talking about being stuck at home and–gulp–not being able to escape to my favorite coffeeshop to work for a couple of hours several times a week. The result is I’ve been forced to entertain myself and that’s included things like painting shutters, patio furniture and the like this past week. I wanna go back to being a lazy writer. VBG
To be honest, it started with the shutters. One blew off overnight. Since it was down, it was “suggested” this would be a good time to repaint all the shutters. That meant taking the rest of them down. And, well, you can see where this is going.
The good thing about it, beyond actually getting some things off my to-do list, it gives me time to think.
It also gives Myrtle the Evil Muse time to mess with me. Hence the title of the post. Why, because most of my “conversations” with Myrtle begin with me saying, “okay, but. . . .” This is mainly because she loves to screw with me. She’s done her fair share of that with Rogue’s Magic and its sequel. To start, she had me writing the books out of order. And wasn’t that fun once I realized why I was fighting the book so hard?
Then she played a game she just loves to torment me with: not telling me the main character’s name. That’s bad enough when the book is written in third person POV. When it is in that character’s first-person POV it truly sucks. But she thinks it’s fun to screw with me and she takes such pleasure with it. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen too often (knock on wood she doesn’t take this as a challenge.)
Earlier this morning, I took an hour to finish painting the patio furniture and metal planters. As I did, I thought about what I wanted to blog about. Then I remembered a post I’d read last night over at The Passive Voice. That, in turn, reminded me of the guest post by Jean Rabe last month. And all that reminded me of certain things that happened when I was shopping around my second novel and the frustrations involved.
No, this isn’t a post about the evils of traditional publishing. If anything, it is a post about knowing what you as a writer want and what you as a reader want.
I don’t know about you but, as a reader, I quickly grow tired of books that are nothing but retreads of books I’ve already read. It doesn’t matter if the book being “mirrored” is a best seller or something the author wrote earlier. We’ve all read more than our fair share of Da Vinci Code rip-offs or pale versions of Harry Potter. I’m tired of some of my favorite writers ( or used to be favorite) basically taking a book or series that did well a few years ago and simply changing the names of the characters and the location. If I can tell you exactly what happens, including the sub-plot by the end of the first paragraph, I’m not going to keep reading.
Give me something new, or at least newish. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little.
That’s what brought me to not only Jean’s post but to what I dealt with when I first shopped Nocturnal Origins around. Jean found herself with a series she wanted to write and publishers telling her they couldn’t accept it because it didn’t fit any of their established niches. Forget about opening the envelop and expanding the market. It didn’t fit the mold, so they wouldn’t look at it. That is their loss because she was brave enough and determined enough to bring the series out on her own.
And I found a new favorite series in the process.
With Origins, I made a decision early on that I didn’t want to follow what was already becoming an oversaturated market of UF novels with a female lead written in first-person POV. For one, I wanted the book to stand out from the others. For another, I felt third-person POV, even third-person limited, better fit the story and structure of the book. So I finished it, sent it to my beta readers and then off it went to agents and publishers.
That’s when I discovered doing something different wasn’t all that welcome. Most of the editorial responses I got back came down to one thing: if my lead character was female, I needed to rewrite the book in first person and, oh yeah, add sex. It didn’t matter sex was not appropriate to that book. All that mattered was fitting the mold.
Now, Bransford, the author of the article linked by The Passive Voice, is right. You need to know your genre. I’ll add you need to as a writer and as a reader. But as both, it’s important to remember not every variety of genre and sub-genre has been discovered. Of, if they have, they may not have been adequately promoted by publishers (large or small).
I guess this is a long-winded way of saying don’t be afraid to try something knew. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fit some definition set out by bean counters who probably never read a space opera or cozy mystery or urban fantasy book in their lives. Find what you like to read and support those authors who write in that genre or sub-genre. As a writer, if you can’t find the exact sub-genre, create it. It wasn’t that long ago most of us had never even considered fantasy and space opera combining or–gasp–romance happening in our SF. Yet now they are growing sub-genres.
Take a leap of, if not faith, curiosity.
I’ve found a lot of really good books that way. Too bad trad publishing isn’t willing to take that leap. But it is good for small presses and indie authors. They can write to market and they can create a market.
And isn’t that what it should all be about? Writing what we want and being able to find books we want to read, when we want them?