Romancing the Drone
My friend Georgie sent me this link because she knew I’d get riled up and blog about it. She was right.
Romancing the Blog: Purple Prose: A Bum Rap
A blog by Rebecca Brandewyne, the romance writer. She should have named herself Rebecca From Sunnybrook Farm. She’s delusional. One look at her absurd photo tells you all you need to know about her writing. She looks like Dolly Parton’s illegitimate daughter. Can you say Glamour Shots?
I have written romance before. But I quickly outgrew the sort of romance to be had gushing from the pen of Ms. Brandewyne. I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, too, but again…I grew up.
My main problem with romance novels in general, is that they perpetuate a naivete about how people really are, and how relationships really go. Yes, yes, I know, it’s about ESCAPE. Romance readers want to be taken to another place that is idyllic so they can escape their mundane lives filled with mundane or non-existent romance. I get that. But how are these readers going to change the nature of their lives unless they stop living in a dream world? And what of the unrealistic expectations they place on every potential suitor? Ignorance and delusion is never a solution to the ills we face in this world.
All that aside, I was struck by Brandewyne’s ridiculous justifications for her brand of idiocy. Here’s a prime example from the blog link above:
“So-called clean writing actually has very little to do with good writing–and a great deal to do with saving on paper costs.”
Dumbass. Yes, she does have a “following” and if you are the least bit schooled and practiced in quality writing, you know who those followers are. I mean, Charles Manson had followers too. So did Liberace, and Zsa-Zsa Gabor and Marie Antoinette; and currently, there’s the Paris Hilton bunch.
“Clean writing” for the fiction author has NOTHING to do with saving paper, and EVERYTHING to do with good writing. But I wouldn’t expect anyone with only half a brain cell to understand this. There will always be, as my friend Georgie says, “straight women who don’t have lives, hate their husbands and kids and can only find entertainment in romance novels.” Odds are, these women are also uneducated, quixotic and delusional, like Brandy Wine, or Brandewyne.
Why am I so caustic? Because I feel that bad writing reflects on writers everywhere. And for those of us who care about the quality of our work, born of many years of learning and striving and making hard choices, it’s insulting to the nth degree.
She mentions in this blog that she was a journalism student, as well, and this is her excuse for her bad writing. Half my major was journalism, too, but I understand the distinction between journalistic writing and fiction writing. Trimming, in journalism, is often about what she said–fitting the words on a page–but it’s also about being succinct and concise so that people can get on with their lives while keeping up with all the news. In the case of fiction, however, it’s about quality, not quantity. She’s too thick to even understand that.
To make her ignorance more stark, she says,
“So, now, you know the etymology of the phrase. Purple prose was originally brilliant, effective prose.”
Yeah, and now it’s been reduced to what SHE writes. If she’s going to speak of etymology, she ought to learn that etymology is as much about the CHANGES in a word’s meaning, as it is about the ORIGINAL meaning of a word. I don’t care if she is published–there’s always an audience for insipid, vacuous drivel. There will always be plenty of stupid people to write for. Just because they can read, it doesn’t mean they are sources of validation or wisdom. You can stand for hours in a garage, but that doesn’t mean you’re a car.
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s and excerpt, I found at random, first try, from one of her books:
“It was time.
Storm gazed lovingly at the man who lay sleeping so peacefully by her side, there was no need of words between them, no need to tell him of her decision. He would know she had made it the moment he awakened and looked into her eyes. He would know too how very painful it had been and how much it had cost her. Yes, he would understand all that– and more.
She reached out one hand to gently brush away a strand of hair that caressed his cheek. He was here. He was real. He was hers, this man, forever. Only death could separate then now, and they had lived with death too long to fear it. It was as much a part of them as the shadows they cast beneath the fierce Texas sun.”
Cue the violins, and someone, hand me a pail, quickly, before I hurl on the floor.
Throughout her writing, she also liberally sprinkles every cliche known to humankind, and breaks every rule of intelligent, poignant and meaningful prose, character development, plotting, and verisimilitude.
The fact that Brandewyne is on the NY Times Bestseller list is inconsequential. Every good writer understands that being good is not always the criteria by which a book winds up on that dubious success list –it’s about how many people want to read that kind of thing; and as we all know, far more people fall into the “simple” category, than into the category of complex and erudite. Seasoned, quality writers also know that if they want to make some easy money, all they have to do is come up with some breezy, romantical pen name, and crank out a bunch of maudlin purple prose, and they get a check. That’s because of all those aforementioned uneducated, puerile individuals who populate our census data. The same can be said for other industries like music, art, fashion and paddle-ball.
I’m not even seeking a mainstream publisher, after over 20 years of writing, because I after polishing my craft enough to be proud to have my name on it, writing good enough, I believe, to compete with authentic authors of meaningful fiction, I decided it wasn’t worth giving up the creative control for 15% of the profit, when I can get 80% and write what I want, how I want, and without selling my soul for some precious piece of paper that ultimately means very little.
I’ll take that, any day, over publishing the cheap, childish fare Brandewyne does.
 For corroboration, please refer to Publishing’s Wrong Numbers by Michael Dirda, Kvetching About the Bestseller List by Alicia Rasley, That’s Some Bad Writing, Hoss by novelist JW Manus, and Worst Bestselling/Bestseller Authors (And why?) on Straight Dope forum.
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