Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Type of Writer Am I?

What type of writer be I?

I've been thinking about that a lot lately. What's my style? What do readers think when they read my name?

I've been spending some time on Good Reads lately - that online library/chat room/encyclopedia - reading over reviews. Not just reviews of my own writing, but those of other authors as well. While reading reviews of one's work can be a very affirming hobby, it can also be a dangerous one. As a writer, one is bound to run into negative reviews. Some of these can be quite helpful, well-written, and insightful. Others can be vicious, as if the reviewer now has a personal vendetta against the author. They draw blood.

Some people have been disappointed with my latest novel, Galley Proof. While I wish that wasn't the case, there has never been a proven way to please everyone all the time. Some people just won't connect with me or my writing. That's fine. We are not clones. I wrote a book that perhaps means much more to me than it does to someone looking for a good romance.

A lot of this disappointment, I think, comes from expectations. Many of the less than favorable reviews come from people who have never read any of my other works. My writing, I have been told, is not typical. I write for Dreamspinner Press, a m/m romance publisher, but my books don't fall neatly into that genre. I have been lucky enough to find a publisher who believes in my work so much they'll publish me anyway. The best description of my writing I've seen so far was from a reviewer who said I wrote "gay fiction with romantic themes." I think it throws readers when they go looking for a balls out romance and pick up one of my books. They soon find my book doesn't follow a particular template. When you are not what people expect you to be, it's something akin to taking a big gulp of Pepsi only to find that it's really iced tea.

(Then again, maybe they just hate my writing.)

I hate the idea that I'm a disappointment to anyone. At heart, my books are about character more than story. I prefer the surreal and fantastic storylines to the contemporary ones. Of the TEN published books I have written, only THREE were intentionally written as romantic.Simple Men succeeded the most, I think, in capturing the genre's template. I tried again with Another Enchanted April, and then once more with Galley Proof. The latter two branched off from the m/m genre as I was writing them. I freely admit that. Yet I find them much more interesting works because of that. Anyone who has read the latter knows how personal it is. Sometimes embarrassingly so. It's just shy of a memoir in parts.

I don't have it in me, the ability to write sweeping m/m romance. But maybe that's a good thing. There are a number of master traditional m/m romance writers out there. As long as I have a publisher, I'll be happy to be the weird guy at the party telling stories that might be just a little off. I might not be the most popular cock, but I shoot one hell of a load.

19 comments:

  1. Eric, I can relate. I have recently had some 3 star reviews that were less that flattering, and I had one potential reviewed put the book down after 60 pages (out of 380) saying he just couldn't finish it. We write, I believe, because we love to tell stories, not because we expect we'll retire on royalties. I've read some of your work (and plan to read more), and I like it. Now, that doesn't mean I will love everything you write, but that's the way it works, and I'm finding out right out of the gate. As you know, you're a role model/muse for me, so whether or not people like what you write has no effect on that status. You're a gay writer who's been published, you write good stuff, and you're easy on the eyes (okay, the latter part is purely ego-stroking, but pretty true nonetheless).

    Even if I end up writing what others consider 3 star work forever, I'll still write because it's what I love to do. And, I'm guessing you do, too, or else you wouldn't do it.

    That cock/load line, by the way, made me choke on my coffee. Well played.

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    1. LOL. Thanks, David! I'm honored to be your role model/muse.

      And some of my favorite writers have nothing but 3 star reviews on GR: Hal Duncan, James Purdy, both of whom I consider geniuses.

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  2. Gay fiction with romantic elements for the contemporaries, and magical realism with gay fiction and romantic elements for the others... although that's not clearly delineated, of course. :)

    I could maybe see you writing urban fantasy with gay fiction and romantic elements - real urban fantasy, like Charles de Lint. The stuff that convinces you magic is real and the slight movement you catch out of the corner of your eye in the darkling times is as likely to be something magical as not.

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    1. I am actually working on something just like that right now :-)

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    2. *insert Twilight Zone music*

      :D

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  3. Eric, I'm so glad you posted this! I have only had one book published, but have learned from it that I just need to follow and believe my voice. My most crushing review was the one that didn't happen. A gay writer agreed to read my book and write a blurb of praise on the condition he enjoyed the book. Well, he didn't, and declined on doing a blurb, for reasons which he seemed to think would be obvious to me. My book isn't a traditional romance or suspense novel, but it's me and it's my voice, so that's okay. Never quit!

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    1. Exactly, Paul. Keep writing!

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    2. I saw the blurb of your book and it looks like a lot of fun. I'm curious so I just bought it :)

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  4. It must be hard as an author not to take reviews too much to heart, but a lot are just mean rather than constructive. I love your books because they are different (and because they are so well written!) and hope you carry on as you are.

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    1. I appreciate that, Dianna! Thank you!

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  5. I like regular MM romance. I love gay fiction that doesn't mind the template, even more so when it feels personal. Please don't change because I love your type of writing.

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  6. You must write what you are passionate about. Period. You are you.

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  7. Really like your way of writing here and i appreciate your honesty ,so i may make you few dollars richer buying your book because now im curious :)

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