Recently, I posted a inquiry to my readers, about a publishing aspect of my work. All the responses were encouraging and thought-provoking, but one in particular touched upon some deeper themes. Here it is.
TO MY READERS–A QUESTION: As authors, we want to please everyone, but that’s just not possible. For instance, on my newest novella, Saturation Point, I have 4 and 5 star reviews and personal messages and emails that tell me how much they enjoyed the introspective nature of this book, and the characters, but on one review, the reviewer was bored because there wasn’t dialogue on every page, and they didn’t like one of the characters. And so it goes. I still continue to try to strike a balance, but more than that, I always try to tell a story in a new way. I never want my writing to get stale or predictable. That’s another reason why I started the Cross-Pollination Series where I combine popular characters from my books into one storyline.
There are also other considerations, such as how in the world I will keep up with writing the next book in each of my series, when it does take some extra time to compose a full-length novel. With that in mind, I tried to solve that problem by writing only novellas for a while, but i found that most readers don’t want shorter books, and so i was back to writing full-length novels, and spreading myself too thin. Alas. There may be nothing i can do but my best, even if i can’t put out a book every two months. So I don’t know how long it will take to get out the next installment for a new AKA Investigations book, or the next in Northwoods Trilogy, and so on through Rain Falls, New Harbor Witches, Run the Risk (shamrock Cove series), Samegender Chronicles, Cross-Pollination series, etc.
FROM ONE RESPONDENT:
I would, if I were you, write what “I” wanted, the way I wanted, and in the time frame, I wanted. As an artist your inspiration is pure creative expression, from you, and then you share your story. You are either a commercial writer that loses her spark, or you are an author who creates worlds from a unique place, whether long or short, novel or novella. I enjoy books I can lose myself in. I feel their magic when I become so emerged in a literary expression that I become a part of the environment and lose myself. The length of story is irrelevant.
I appreciate that. And i agree with everything you say. I must respectfully point out, though, that unfortunately, the idealized view of my work has to be tempered by the practicalities of it also being my JOB…Thus, those of us in the creative arts, if we are to ask for payment for our creations, are under a certain kind of umbrella. I chose to do this professionally. It is not a hobby. Therefore, I MUST be concerned about the readers and what they want to see. I don’t believe i have to compromise my integrity to do that. I still honor the creative aspects and i still tell only the stories i want to tell, in the way I want to tell them. I could do nothing less and still be who I am. While inspiration is a creative expression, and storytelling is also, the implementation and BUSINESS of that creativity is a great deal of work and does also demand judicious things. Novelwriting is a WHOLE BRAIN activity. So is the publishing business. The more I understand about my readers and what they need, the better I can provide what they want, within the parameters of my free creative expression. Thank you for your insight. It’s always appreciated.
Last night a reader contacted me and told me I saved her life. That my books saved her from despondency and suicide. She said she started reading one of my books, and kept reading, and kept reading, moving through my body of work. And she was able to keep going. Moments like that serve to remind me that my work is not just entertainment or escapism, but also a method of inspiring strength, or bringing light to darkness, of revealing the beauty of the human spirit. I always try to depict my characters in a way that inspires others to move forward, even when pitted against seemingly insurmountable odds. I always SHOW, without myth or tilting at windmills, how it’s possible to rise above, and survive when bad people do bad things. I will continue to do that, because it is the core of who I am. And because the world needs that, more than I need a pat on the head, or a paycheck. But the paycheck must be considered. I just choose to find ways to honor myself and my readers, while also honoring the realities of the business, and the limits of sharing creative expressions with the public.