Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

on being a writer

A few thoughts on being a writer--

If you've yet to publish a book, you might think that the time after bringing one out would be filled with satisfaction and joy. For me, not so much. It's more a feeling of stress. The main reason is at that point, the book is no longer just mine. Now it belongs to readers also, and I have no idea how they will see it.  Did I make it clear why what happened did? How about my villain, when I have one, will what he did make sense to the reader? Everyone short of psychopaths must make sense. In the blurb, I put a warning regarding sex, violence and strong language but inevitably some don't read it and end up irked.

Then, besides wondering how readers will see it, there must be promotions, never much fun for me. I always believe in my books-- love them or they don't get written-- but promoting it is a whole other game.

For my newest book, Going Home, added onto this was a bit of panic when formatting for the paperback version found some small errors, which no one editing the book had seen. If the book had not been in pre-release, we could have fixed it-- even at the last minute. A book in pre-release, for the ten days before its actual arrival, cannot be changed... That was frustrating and led to a hurried adjustment when it was possible. Unfortunately, all those who pre-ordered the book would get it with the mistakes. :(

Frankly, for that reason alone, I may reconsider the benefits of pre-releases. It is nice to have a firm publishing date and be able to offer a book cheaper for the first readers, who are generally on my mailing list and those who have liked my other books. I could do that though for the first week out. Whether I do another pre-order, I have until the end of October to decide.

As most know who read this blog, I write romance novels. They can be historical, contemporary or fantasy, but they all are romances. Some are sexier than others, but they all have some of that in them-- even if, as with the novellas, it is behind a closed door.

Some ask why write romances when they are so little respected by literary elites. I know that some of my friends don't admit they read my books-- even if they do. There is no prestige attached to reading them, which leads some to ask-- why write them when they are not a respected genre.

Well, it's because they are the stories that come to me. You can't write what someone else wants you to write short of turning it into craft. I do though kind of get why people would disrespect the romance genre. Last week, I was looking through the romance novels I had kept from the '90s. I opened up one and immediately started laughing at the overheated prose. The plot was a little far fetched but that was more acceptable-- fiction is fiction even if the reader gets fooled into thinking it's not. 

This book had the kind of rhetoric that has turned romances into jokes. The best way to illustrate this is a bit from the book ( published by Bantam). I am not revealing the title as I am not trying to ridicule a writer, who likely was doing what the publishing houses requested; but just to show what was common in those earlier, more publisher controlled times.
Sunlight blazed upon his magnificent body,highlighting every niche and curve of his powerfully carved chest and thickly muscles arms and legs. There was a raw savage beauty to him as he stood before her, all sinewey ripples and hard planes, his body battered and bruised, but still exuding strength and determination. In that moment he reminded her of a medieval warrior-- fierce, uncultivated, dangerous. She felt the urge to reach up and place her hands upon the powerful breadth of his shoulders, to splay her fingers wide over the solid flat of his belly, to feel his warrior blood pulsing hot beneath her palms as she pressed herself against him.
No wonder people laughed at them. And if I gave you the love scenes, which went on for pages and pages, it would show even more effusive writing-- which frankly wasn't a bit sensual when my urge was to giggle. 

These were the years I was reading those books to try and understand the genre, the years I would send my own romance manuscripts into the publishers and have them sent back with kind letters about the quality of the writing, but they wanted something more. I believe they wanted what I posted above, and even to get published, I was not willing to write something like that. 

Yet, I write romances, and my characters often have hot bodies which I do describe-- just with different words. Basically I stick to the kinds of words that come to me when I see someone, say walking out of a grocery store, who is gorgeous and in prime condition. (I am old but not so old that I don't appreciate physical beauty in male or female). Does it though require a writer to use effusive sentences to get the message across? I didn't think so-- still don't. The following is describing a woman seeing for the first time one of those hot men from one of my books.
 A large man unwound himself from the green Bronco. His eyes were hidden behind the brim of a Stetson and reflective sunglasses. Even shaky from her experience, her artist's eye couldn't ignore the sheer grace, with which he moved his long, lean body, as he strode across her yard.  When he reached the porch, he stopped, not climbing the three steps.  He looked at her for a moment, perhaps expecting her to speak; then pulled off the glasses. 
His face was craggy, with a hawk-like nose, a long scar across one cheek, a square jaw, covered with a day's growth of bristle, and magnificent tawny, almost yellow eyes, rimmed with dark lashes. Nobody could call it a handsome face, maybe some would even see it as ugly, but to her it was mesmerizing. Beneath his Stetson, his hair appeared to be dark blond, a little long on the neck for a border patrolman. 
Well, I did use the word magnificent but aren't some eyes magnificent? I don't know if romances from the big publishing houses are still pouring out the effusive wording. I don't read their books. 

In the indie romances I read today, I do not find wording like that so humorously ridiculed in the past. I know many idnie writers, who have also written for many years but didn't publish until the world changed.

And on multiple levels, writing has changed. The expectations for romances have too, regarding points of view, etc., although there is one firm expectation that hasn't-- happy endings. Romance happy endings are why I enjoy writing and reading them more than say love stories where tragedy can be the end. I get enough of that every time I open a newspaper.


Tabor said...

Since there is criticism regarding sex or language I am wondering if we do not need to break the romance genre into two groups? This seems to be a cultural shift for your readers. As I have written, I used to be addicted to romance novels when much younger, and I honestly cannot remember if they were very realistic or not regarding sex etc.

Rain Trueax said...

it would be good to do that, Tabor. There definitely are diverse groups out there for what they want. One thing though about romances-- realistic though the author might like to make them seem, like something that could or did happen, they are still fairy tales for adults ;).

I don't think I laughed at them back then though. I just didn't want to write overly flowery words anymore than I like to write pages and pages of sex-- boring to me even when it's not seeming silly. I do like though to include sex in my books-- just not repeating the same things over and over and over again.

Where it comes to overly emotion laden words, I think of the scene in Romancing the Stone where the very successful romance author is crying her eyes out at her last scene in the book she's writing.