CAUTION: FRUSTRATED RANT HOVERING NEARBY.
When you find yourself, as a writer, lamenting about why you’re even writing at all, and entertaining the idea of not writing any more, something has to change.
I’m growing more and more frustrated with, and weary of, the lack of support from Lesbian Readers for what I want to offer them. I am sick to death of their constant praise of bad writing in the LesFic market, and their unwillingness to demand better, and try anything out of their narrow reading interests. It’s painfully clear that most LesFic Readers have literary blinders, and will only read Formula Fiction (read: Lesbian Romance), which I don’t write, per se. It’s not that I don’t include romance in my writing, I just don’t hyperfocus on it to the exclusion of other balancing and enriching elements like creative and often complex plotting, combining and experimenting with genre and style, and a continual quest to put a new twist on common ideas. I always break the rules on the formula, or write in other fiction genres. I like exploring new ideas, new possibilities, and this inevitably gets reflected in my writing. One glance at my category cloud on this blog, will tell you how panoptic and diverse my interests are. I read mostly in the mainstream, to include books from a wide array of subject matter. So, in regard to the writing I sell, why would I want to be shackled to one genre with rigid delineations in a project that usually occupies several months, and runs around 70,000 words? Because I am a lesbian? All truths and value do not begin and end with sexual orientation.
My eight years of college, in the Professional Writing & Editing curriculum, as well as a lifetime of self-study, writing and rewriting (to date, 33 books), is indicative of my lust for learning and my need to evolve and expand my intellectual horizons. I’m inherently an autodidact, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t paid my dues or sought education from learned teachers in my chosen field throughout the years. Yet, it seems to count for little, now. It used to matter a great deal, before digital self-publishing came along. (Believe me, I’m a staunch advocate of Indie Publishing, but it does come with its own challenges). More to the point, it’s disheartening and feels like a betrayal that most lesfic readers don’t care about or don’t notice horrible grammar, sloppy mechanics and spelling, cheesy, predictable plotlines, stilted dialogue, cardboard characters, vapid themes, and an overall dismissal of the CRAFT OF WRITING, in particular.
I have spent 25 years learning my craft and there will always be more to learn, but I resent that I have worked this hard my whole life only to watch my “Community” support those who have no business publishing their work yet. It’s no different than a Jane Q. Public waltzing into a hospital to perform surgery, when she hasn’t gone to med school, or building a suspension bridge, when the only experience and training she’s had is childhood afternoons with Tinker Toys. Writers used to be admired, and they were respected, and for good reasons. Writing books is a profession, like any other profession, and I take it as seriously as a surgeon or attorney or engineer. So should those writers who are publishing substandard work.
I run the risk of making myself an even bigger pariah by saying these things (so what else is new?) and for my decision to focus on mainstream, rather than lesfic. I write about PEOPLE, first. Their challenges, the human condition, their minds and hearts, and all the characteristics we share as a species. Sexual orientation is merely one aspect of that milieu. And good writing, is good writing, in any genre.
All things considered, this shift in my focus is predicated on several factors, such as the ones I ranted about above, but also that readers tend to select authors based on the type of books they write, so it’s wise to have different pen names for different genres. Thus, I’ll be using one name for mainstream fiction (I’m already in the process of switching my mainstream work to that name), one for the erotica (I’ve already published 3 new stories under that one) and one for nonfiction, and maybe another for my humanistic/skeptic work. (I haven’t chosen that name yet.)
Perhaps then, I can find several niches that offer me a better return on my investment and hard work.
So, while I will be maintaining my real name in the lesfic books I have written and might ever write in the future, I’m republishing some of my writing under various pseudonyms, and will be focusing on Mainstream Fiction for a while. I’ve also got so many books (both fiction and nonfiction), stories & essays, now,that I must do some streamlining in order to better target the demographics, especially since the above-mentioned “community” doesn’t support anything outside that narrow genre ideation.
I have to, because not writing would suck the purpose out of my life.