Rethinking how I think


So there’s a big hullabuloo (is that how you spell it?) going on because an UF writer turned erotica writer is having some issues… her UF doesn’t sell, and she doesn’t like that.  Her erotica writing does… and she likes the money, I think, but she’s not really into erotica.  She thinks it’s trash.

I don’t want to go into this a great deal… she’s wrong, plain and simple.  Dismissing an entire genre as inferior?  Yeah, I seem to recall SF people who view UF as inferior.  A bunch of lit folks who smash down all genre books.

Disregarding an entire genre because you don’t get it is narrow-minded, at best.  And it’s all wrong.

To quote the awesome David Morrell who spoke at the RT Awards Show…

There are no inferior genres, just inferior writers.

Every genre has its lousy books, and every genre has its gems.

Just like every genre has books that are going to be overlooked…books that people poured their heart and soul into, and those books just don’t sell worth shit.

My Veil series was cancelled because of low sales.  Does that suck?  Yep.  Do I blame the readers?  Nope.  Sometimes a series just doesn’t connect with the right group of readers.

Every genre is going to have books that sell like gangbangers.  I mean… hello, Fifty Shades of Grey, right?  That thing sells like mad.

The author in question, Kendall Grey said crap that was insulting.  She was dismissive of her readers who laid out their hard-earned money, who enjoyed her work, who complimented her.

She was dismissive of an entire genre of writers who spent a lot of time crafting their work… Ms. Grey bemoans how she spent years crafting her UF trilogy, how much money and time and energy, and then she wrote an erotica book that earned $10k.  Hey, that’s awesome money, go you… but she doesn’t get why the books she loved didn’t make the money, and the book she doesn’t seem to care about did.  Well, she thinks she understands.  Readers like simple.  They don’t like art.  I looked at her art…it didn’t catch my interest, and I’m a diehard UF lover.  Sometimes, that happensA book just fails to connect with the right group of readers.

Sometimes, you can do all the supposed ‘right’ things…and nothing happens.  There is no magical cure or shortcut or answer in this business, and I think that might be the root of the problem.  She’s looking for answers, and she thinks she found one…

Readers, in her opinion, basically want trash…that’s what her post boiled down to.  She thinks erotica is trash, writing it is selling out and there’s the implication that her readers are dumb. Yes, I had to pick up my jaw off the floor, too… she earned $10k and instead of… wow, thanks guys…she insults them.

If you want to read more about the mess, you can check out Lauren Dane’s rant.  When she puts on her ranty pants, it’s a beautiful thing. And that’s as much detail as I’m going to go into.

The meat and bones of what I want to get at is this…

On twitter the other day, a comment was made by Jane of Dear Author (paraphrasing here…) It’s insulting readers when an author knocks their own work….

And I disagreed.  Not, at all, because of what Kendall Grey said, or what she thinks.  What she said was insulting.  It was dismissive.  I don’t really write a lot of straight erotica.  The closest thing I have is Beg Me.  Erotica isn’t generally my cuppa but Ms. Grey’s comments still come off insulting as hell.  Many women like erotica… they are becoming more comfortable with their own sexuality and rock on with that. Nobody has the right to dismiss them or insult them or make them feel belittled for it.

The reason why I disagreed with Jane is this… I often think a lot of my writing sucks.

And I need to rethink how I think.

It’s not that I’m putting out ‘garbage’ as one twitter follower said and thinking…hey, look at what these suckers might buy

My line of thinking is this:

I’m a perfectionist and I’m never satisfied with what I put out.  Eventually, I have to let the story go and move on, so I can write the next one.  Because I can do better with the next one.  And the next one.

know I have a talent for writing.  I know that, in my gut.  I read books by Lynn Viehl and Nora Roberts and Ilona Andrews and Stacia Kane and I think…wow. I want to be able to do that.  I want to suck people into my stories and hold them in tight so that they can’t let go until the very last page.  And if the story I’m writing doesn’t hold me like that, then I don’t know if it’s good enough.  But I can’t trust my own judgement because I’m a harsh critic.

But it’s also been made clear, very clear… (insert mollified face here) that it’s not really doing a reader justice either to so vocally put it out there like that, and I’ve been known to do that.

This is entirely my problem and I’m sorry if anything I’ve said in that vein has bothered one of my readers. That totally wasn’t my intention at all and I will work on it.  I’m never going to be one of these authors who can honestly (and I can’t say something if I’m not being honest on it) say hey, my books always rock, check me out…

I will be blunt and say I think that’s a tricky road to walk, too, because in this industry, arrogance can be a downfall. I don’t ever want to get to the point to where I think I rock.  I really don’t.  I’ve, sadly, seen several people who let arrogance and success get in the way.  Once that gets in the way, the writing…the story will suffer, and for me, it’s always about the story.

My stories are in my blood and I don’t want them to suffer.

But…the upside to me being critical is that if you see me saying…Whoa, I think I really did something amazing there, that means that book blew me away.  Because I am so critical on myself.  Books like Blade Song, Night Blade, Wrecked and the Ash trilogy are books that actually caught me by surprise.  These books, when I finished them, instead of…I need to do better, it was like… huh.  These are pretty damn good.  Which seems to be a decent indicator, because those books are the ones that have hit really well with readers.

In the future, I’m going to try to ‘retrain’ how I think.  Logically, I know I can write and I get that.  My satisfaction, or lack of, comes from a desire to improve, and it has nothing to do with putting out less than the best book I can.   If the book is less than the best I can do, I put it aside until I can make it my best.

I write the best book I can, but each book improves the craft and I can’t get better unless I keep writing.

Instead of the ‘this book sucks’ line of thinking, I’m going to try and go with… this book might not be as good as I wanted, but it’s the best I can do. Onto the next one.

And readers, please don’t ever let any writer, or anybody else, make you feel inferior because of what you read.  You’re awesome and I love you.

8 Replies to “Rethinking how I think”

  1. Well said!
    I think we’re all a little insecure about our work, and a lot of other things, that’s what maybe one thing that makes our work resonate with people–hopefully.
    Wow, there were a lot of qualifiers in that sentence…

  2. Great post, Shiloh–and please do keep on writing and sure, continue to aim high 🙂 We readers will be pleased!

  3. Great post, Shiloh! I love your books! I think it sucks when an author puts down readers who as you say spend their hard earned money on her books (I never have, but you know what I mean!)…Thanks also for your end phrase “And readers, please don’t ever let any writer, or anybody else, make you feel inferior because of what you read.” I get tired of people ‘making fun’ of the romances I read…I don’t care, it’s just annoying! But they’ll read about murder and mayhem and think that’s more normal, lol!!! (Oh, I read some murder mysteries too!) Thanks again for your words, it’s always nice to get authors’ perspectives. It’s too bad she’s a bad apple in the cart.

  4. A very insightful, clearly laid out argument to make a very good point. I think probably many of us have had that moment of self-revelation when we realize that we were taking the wrong stand. I admire you for your introspective understanding. I find it so disheartening when a writer bashes another genre. It seems to be a particular problem with erotic romance, as even other romance authors (who’ve taken enough bashing themselves to know better) castigate my genre. Thank you for your clear-headed and even tempered post.

  5. This was a really great post. Thank you so much for what you said about how you feel about your writing. I’m happy to not be alone in that or in knowing that I need to retrain my thinking/words spoken about my own work. So, thank you for that too.

  6. A great post! It’s so interesting to hear this, as a reader. And funny that you mention Ilona Andrews, because Gordon and Ilona are constantly saying that their books are terrible (even when they are made of awesome.)

    Thanks for the perspective!

  7. Wonderful!!!
    I read many genres and I remember family and friends almost sneering at me when I said I read Harlequin romances and erotica romances. A choice that as readers we have ans as a writer you have!

  8. thank you. I might not have spent my whole life in a book but I do enjoy the escape. the writer lays the ground work but I get to create the world in my mind. That is what draws me in. there will always be those who are ungrateful in life. Thank goodness there are the ones like you who are very grateful for there gift.

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