Guess I’m finally going to have my rant session. Met with a couple of writer friends last week to bounce ideas around, and one of the women was extremely quiet. Highly out of character. Her exuberance that typically sent us home recharged and excited over our current projects was missing. I knew something was wrong. When I finally got her to open up she burst into tears.
She spilled her problem like she was spilling her soul. It left me wanting to beat the bloody hell out of someone.
Seems she’d been cornered and totally, viciously denigrated for her subject matter. Was told it was trash. That writing romance novels was not a noble endeavor and in no way constituted a literary contribution. That she dared to put (*hand to forehead*) s-e-x in them made it worse and constituted the ultimate sin.
Does her attacker write? No. She probably has no idea the work involved in rendering an interesting, compelling and cohesive story. Yet she had absolutely no qualms about robbing her victim of her budding confidence. I caught myself plotting to invite the old biddy to our next writing exercise. And yes, I say that wearing my shark-tooth grin. But I’m glad I stopped to think before reacting or commenting. You know why? Because coercing her to try to write with the intention of putting her in her place made me no better than her.
I’ve read this girl’s outline as well as her first few chapters. It’s a story based around the Spanish settlements in early New Orleans history and is incredibly well researched. I admit to feeling a little weepy when she told me she’d been inspired by a short story I have out in an anthology, because until she read it, she didn’t know you could take liberties with history and build imaginary characters around an actual event. People, this girl made history come alive. You learned historical facts painlessly because she brought them to memorable life.
Someone even attempting to crush that type of talent pissed me off. Being allergic to jail, I did the next best thing. I laughed it off. Difficult with your jaw clenched. Then I sat her in front of the computer and showed her the different book purchasing sites and how to find each categorical rating. From Inspirational to Erotica to Mystery to Contemporary Romance to Horror to Paranormal to Historical Romance to Futuristic to Fantasy to Young Adult and even Non-fiction, and every sub-genre in between. Showed her each had top-sellers and how to find their authors websites. I took her to websites of two authors in vastly polar categories who shared their earnings, and she was stunned to find both earned well. I think I handled it pretty well.
But I’d still rather punch someone.
This young lady nearly threw away her dream of writing because of one judgmental individual. So if you write, or if you ever plan to try, put your steel-toed boots on. Someone is sure to try to step on your toes. It goes further than this girl’s plight, too. It infuriates me when I hear authors of one genre belittle or dismiss authors in another, or one category of reader denigrate readers of another genre. Diversity is what keeps us all afloat.
Yes, I’m a little sensitive. I was slammed once for writing Paranormal stories by a writer of Inspirational stories. Him being an all-knowing male and myself a female (read ‘of no consequence, as men are in charge of everything’. He remarked women were God’s afterthought. I lean more toward the Creator knew you can improve-on-every-prototype camp.) didn’t make our road together less rocky. He piously told me all writing should be educational and uplifting; like the Bible.
Man, did he step in that one. Having a Baptist preacher for a father sure helped me out with him. Ever see a man suffering a combination of shock he was agreed with, yet puffed-up with false self-righteousness because he thought he’d managed to slap someone down? It turns your stomach to see a person so pleased over hurting another. The dead giveaway he was in trouble should have been how cheerful I was when I told him I often went to the Bible for inspiration with story lines.
Story from the Bible that would make a killer Historical or Contemporary: King David and his lustful red-headed self sending a soldier off on a suicide mission so he could get his hands (and other body parts) on the guy’s wife. That turned into a wild tale when hubby came strolling home from the battlefield.
Shame on Rebekah for favoring her younger son to the point she worked a devious plan to fool her own husband, and rob her older son of his birthright. But if you thought on it, I said after a bit, Esau did earlier trade the promise of his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s stew. Esau obviously didn’t really respect his father’s heritage, so maybe he didn’t deserve to inherit it after all. I pretended to think a bit more, and said shame on Esau’s brother Jacob, too, for taking advantage of a blind man, and using a pelt in place of a hairy arm and neck to rob Esau of his birthright by lie and subterfuge.
OH! And what about those two really kinky daughters who got their dad drunk and got pregnant by him so their bloodline wouldn’t die out? Or the only reference to masturbation I could find being it’s better to spill your seed in the belly of a whore than to spill it on the ground.
He was stumbling backwards by the time I finished. Hmm. Maybe I should be ashamed for losing my temper. I’m convinced those stories are the Creator’s way of saying He’s seen it all, and there’s nothing we can’t bring to Him. Or Her, depending on your religious preference. After all, the biggest lesson the Bible teaches us is not to be so hasty to judge someone else.
So if you ever find yourself afflicted with a case of the better-than-thous, or tempted to indulge in a bit of snarkiness, substitute a little professionalism instead. Respect the craft even if you can’t agree with the subject matter. We writers work to create our best stories, no matter which genre we claim as our own.
Putting my steel-toed boots back on. The Good Book says to turn the cheek. Once. After that it doesn’t say anything, and I can give you Chapter and Verse of some rollicking good fights. I may be too much of a weenie to do much when it comes to defending myself, but I want to be ready to kick the crap out of the next person who deliberately works to destroy a new writer’s dream.
As far as my attacker? He was my inspiration to fight on–in my chosen genre. He’s nothing more to me now than an example to be used. Check out the sign at the top of the post. He sure doesn’t pay rent! lol Write it like you mean it, folks.
See you next week.