Friday, May 25, 2012

Does hard work pay off?

First off - confession. I bought the currently 'disappearing-off-shelves-though-tawdry-and-naughty' trio of books, so very popular at the moment. I read them all. I even enjoyed a point but I ran into a problem I have been having a lot lately.

I spend a lot of my time writing...and revising..and beta reading/critting other people's writing so when I sit down to a book I find myself inadvertently looking for flaws, what I would fix, what I would do different. Some books I lose myself in, others...not so much. Some I think... these words were printed and mine are not? That's so arrogant, but I know we've all thought it.

I know this world we crave to be in is highly subjective but does that excuse bad form? Is the story what really drives it? I know plenty of books like this and there will be many more to follow. I know some where the writing is exquisite but they can't hold me to the characters. But there is one thing that all the books I love have in common - originality.

Now, I don't want this blog to tear down any one particular book, but since these books I speak of are such the word of the moment, I'll use it as example. Most people know it was fan fiction, it's going to be a movie, or many of them, and the author received an obscene amount of money in advance.

It's what we all dream of - success, money to live on while we flounder with words to create the next story and all the world to know the name of our book. So why am I so upset about it?

My main problem, aside from the copious use of about the same twenty adjectives, this trio of books seems to have very little original thought. At least, from where I'm sitting. The characters could be picked out on whom they are based even if one did not know of the fan fiction angle. ( Ex:The other boy who likes her is a Native American and his father ends up in a wheel chair and is best friends with the MC's father - and they go fishing and root for the Mariners.) But it's more than that. The sex scenes, many of which were hot and frankly my favorite parts, I had seen before in other places. Some were so similar to the Beauty books from Anne Rice I actually went back and reread those parts just to make sure I wasn't crazy. The piano top scene - hello, Pretty Woman! Even one scene in the third book was almost identical to one in the first of the series.

Now - as stated, I did enjoy them...kind of. It was an easy read and probably one I will make again. I find myself grinning foolishly when the hot CEO says dirty and romantic things to his clueless girlfriend. But that's not the point..well, actually, it is!

The point is me and all the writers I know are working our butts off to make something original that is being met with a resounding round of no's. Sometimes we're even told, it has not enough voice, not enough original thought. How can that be? I feel all I have is original thought. (Obviously, that's not true, because you are influenced by everything you see and read.) But I am certain my story has not been told before.

That's why I'm telling it. Because it's a story I want to read and it's not out there yet.

So my question is this...Is all the hard work worth it? Should I continue to break my back to make something a little out of the box or should I just put my characters into the plotting grid available?
A + B = something easy to sell.

This is a foolish question because I'm not built that way. If I want to do something, I want to do it well. The best way I can in fact. So this is just a musing. A moment of becoming all too common self doubt.

I'm in a weird place. Should I write how I want and do something different and hope it takes? This is what I want to do. But I fear if I do this, there will not be a market for it. No, I'm not writing to get rich - but I am writing to be read! I want my book on the shelves. I want to be able to put more on the shelf after that!

So what are the merits of original vs. unoriginal thought? Will people read what they haven't seen or what feels comfortable like an old blanket? Am I breaking my brain for nothing when something less than what I have will do? Are all my 'original' thoughts really just a reproduction of others and people will think my books the same old, same old rehashed too?

I tend to think that following my gut and doing what I want is the way to go. I've never been accused of taking the normal path. I suppose this time shouldn't be any different. And all in good time, I'm sure the hard work will pay off. Right? Right.

Until then, don't think me bitter. I'm not bitter. Just longing for the smear of ink on my fingers as I turn the page to be the fresh ink of my mind. Just longing impatiently.

Now, I'm going to go write something that I want. And after some more hard wok, someday I'll put it in your hand and you'll read it. 


  1. I feel like I could have said ALL THESE WORDS. It's like you're INSIDE MY BRAIN! Oh, wait, you pretty much are...

  2. I think this ALL THE TIME. And...I've read the books. I enjoyed them- as long as I could look at them like a reader and not a writer. I get why they're a big thing. I find it HIGHLY annoying, but I get it. Here's what I think- it's hard to come up with an idea that has truly never been done before- it's all in how you tell it. And with these books, I felt like the story was unoriginal AND it wasn't told well. SO....frustrating.

    Here's the other thing(RANT WARNING)- I've decided that luck is way more of a part of all this than I ever realized. Not that it's all luck- at all- but I think sometimes you catch agents on a "yes" day, and sometimes you don't. They might read the same query on two different days....hate it one day, love it the next. Which ALSO drives me crazy. :)

  3. Yes Sarey - It's nice to have company though!
    Megan - I completely agree with the luck thing. Day to day. But yes, frustrating none the less.

    Oh and I love you both!