Why DO you write THAT?
I covered this question when I started blogging five years ago. That was when I was doing fantasy erotica with straight couples. The questions have grown more pointed since I started putting out yaoi books. I get these questions especially after I've written something detailed about the craft of writing. I received a well written and well thought out note after I had given some writing advice to one of my blog readers who wondered when I'd use my talents for writing something more literary. I didn't get angry at the note. It was a kind attempt by someone who liked my work well enough to take the time to write. I hear much the same sentiment quite regularly from some family members. The concern is that I am not using my talent in a way that could make me real money or real fame or critical acclaim. Thus, I would be more financially secure and less panic stricken. I've even thought such things on occasion – when I'm being mopey.
The flippant answer (which I did not and would not give in response to such a well meaning note) is that books acclaimed by literary critics make money so long as they are assigned reading from some misguided lit professor. And that still isn't much money. Writers with a lot of fame and money are often writing material that they should be ashamed of if they aren't already. Why, yes I am thinking about Twilight. Unless the writer happens to be enjoying that fifteen minutes of fame for some reason, whether or not their book will be a best seller is in the same realm of probability as hitting the lottery. Because of publication pipelines – like film pipelines – by the time we in the public see that a theme has become a trend out of a given set of titles that hit big, it's too late to capitalize on it. In the year and a half it would take for that new take on angsty teenaged vampires to hit the stores or the theaters (and that is if it is picked up immediately after the six months it takes to write the book/script), the trend is on to angsty middle aged bull fighters(I have dibs on that – it's mine). My point is that trying to write in the hopes of that lucrative best seller will most likely be an exercise in frustration.
And what is literary anyway? I'm certain that the intellectuals of Dickens' day didn't consider his serialized stories high art. I know for certain that the some of the idiots we were reading in grad school are no longer considered worthy of study. I couldn't agree more. I won't even be angry about the complete waste of my time so long as no one else has to suffer through that pretentious drivel. And no, I won't name names. I don't want them to have anymore attention than they already have. There have been and still are genre books that transcend their niche to be considered literary. I'm not going to delve into specifics here. That would turn this blog into writing a paper. I'm not doing that. If you are curious, Google literary science fiction or literary horror and read on. For my part, I know that there are many authors that I shelved in their genre and in lit when I worked at bookstores. Working at the Archive deepened my belief that what is or is not considered serious writing changes with the times. I don't know how many well thought of and prolific authors of a given era I've scanned that I have never heard of – and I have a graduate degree in lit. I would look them up to find out that they first fell out of fashion and then off the cliff of literary conscience generations ago.
To be a creative person is to be on a path that is often full of pain and self doubt in general. It is insanity to further burden yourself with trying to compete in an arena that is not a comfortable fit. I am a storyteller. I love spinning yarns that are enjoyable and engrossing journeys. I put a lot of effort into any story that I tell for the page or for the screen, because there is something fascinating about the characters or the world I've created or both. Even with titles or scripts that haven't performed as I'd hoped so far (I never give up on any of my work), at least I can say that I really enjoyed hanging out in that universe or with those characters. Doing the work itself is its own reward which is good, because sometimes, that's all I get. I still work toward a day when doing something I really enjoy doing will be able to support our household. But I'm okay with really enjoying the work.
The epic year end wrap up will be out tomorrow when we are all more sober.