Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Writing Meta, No. Whatever

I was emailing someone the other day about a wee crisis of confidence about my writing, and they scoffed. Because, yes, I'm a decent writer, but not a great writer. My long-term goal is to continuously take it up a notch at a time, so by the time I'm ninety I *will* be a great writer. I honestly believe that. Book by book, chapter by chapter, I will get there. Perhaps a bit of a hopeless dream, but it's my hopeless dream and I'm reaching for it. Anyway, that's not germane to what I want to say today.

This mini-hissy fit was brought on by section in my new book that wasn't working. The words fit together okay, and there was the tee-hees in the the right places, but it didn't work. By that I mean where in the hell was the passion? I don't mean sex on the kitchen floor passion, but an underlying sense that the author feels this down to their bone marrow and you (the reader) should too, by dint of their writing. Now, I'm not writing the sort of book that elicits, in general, that sort of reaction. However, there should be this underlying sense that *I* care about what I'm saying, that my words are making my passion your passion. Even in a beach read there should be a thread of passion running through a book. Otherwise you'll stop reading my book at Chapter 4 and throw it back into your beach bag, slop on some more sunscreen, and rummage around for another book to fill the time. I've failed you. You've walked through that door that says "Exit," and you're about to walk through another writer's door. Crap

Yes, I've said here that you can't please all readers all the time. It's just not possible. I'm always floored when I rave about a book and someone else says, "Meh." It's even worse when I respect that person's opinion and they hate a book I thought was brilliant. For instance (small rec inserted here), I loved Steve Martin's "Shopgirl," and a friend hated it, and I thought, "WHAT? ARE YOU CRAZY?"

I'm digressing, as usual. Anyway, I should love what I'm writing because that passion will, guaranteed, translate to the page. That is part of the problem with the current push to make authors churn out a book a year. They are scrambling to find that plot, that idea that can sustain 80,000 words, which is a hell of a lot different than writing 80,000 words because, oh my god, you must hear this. A series is hard enough to pull off, but I can't be the only person for whom the series has become a reader's landmine. The writers are so bored with these characters you can practically hear the yawning as you turn the pages.

So, say I haven't fulfilled my end of the bargain. I've churned out something that I don't particularly care about but fulfills my contractual obligations. That ennui easily translates to the page, and chances are that the next time you (the reader you) want a beach read for that plane ride, you'll buy that author that sated your reading jones the last time: *not* me. Clearly, it behooves me to keep you interested. But beyond even the monetary considerations, read my book because I have a story worth telling--or I should--and I want you to hear it. I feel passionately about these characters and I want to share that passion. That girl A is writing a book and girl B is a better writer and boy A is a jerk but has a nice jaw and boy B is friendly and tall and a little bit clumsy. Park your butt in the chair, the plane seat, down on the beach blanket and listen to me.

There was a girl...


Anonymous said...

So, Claire, now that I have a Sony ebook reader (Christmas present), when your new book is published, should I buy it in hardcover or pay the fee and download it to the reader? I saw that both your previous books are listed on the Sony site for purchase, and I would have downloaded them except, of course, that I already have the books on my bookshelf.


Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!