Raw Emotion, Hot Sex and LaughterbyTara_Neale©
The number one (two and three) rule of being a writer is...don't respond to criticism. But every now and then someone or something comes along that makes that virtually impossible. For me, it is never the scathing, barely camouflaged vitriol of other authors or wanna-be's. It is the thoughtful and well worded (and spell checked) ones that get my mental gears rolling. And I take each of those very seriously since I am always look to improve my stories.
I received one of those recently. The anonymous reader believed that the issue was with the pacing in my story. He felt that I was getting too caught up in the characters and not giving enough focus to the story. B-I-N-G-O. He is completely right. And actually, most of what he said was a compliment in that light.
Over the past three years as I have grown from kick'em out as fast as you can erotica writing (bordering on straight porn honestly) to a indie writer, who is working towards making this a career, I am continually evaluating what it is that I write, why I write it and who I am in the brave new world of publishing. And I have come to some conclusions, although as with anything in life it is always evolving. But here goes with some of those beliefs.
I began two years ago with the tag line...Reality romances because everyone deserves a happily ever after. But then I started to write some fantasy and sci-fi that were anything but real. So how did that fit it? What's more, some of my most popular stories were not strictly romance at all as attested to by the fact that a surprisingly large portion of my readers are male. If I labeled myself a 'romance' writer then I felt I might lose some of them. So that did not feel quite right.
Then about a year ago, I decided to shift the focus from what I wrote to who I am...as a writer and a person. I came up with a new tag line...Writer, Madonna and More. The great thing about this was that it is not genre specific. It would allow me to even include my non-fiction parenting and self-help works under the same pen name. That felt really right to me, even though it flew in the face of conventional brand marketing. It was also a cute play upon words that had been a major challenge of my life...Madonna/whore complex. Since one of the themes in many of my books is the fact that woman can and often do (unless something is wrong with them physically or something traumatic happened to them) enjoy sex as much or more (thank the goddess for multi-orgasms) than men, I liked it...at the time.
Then my works seemed to take on a darker, more deep tone that transcended both erotica and romance. Something that no publisher would touch. I came to fume and ferment each time I was asked at one of the point of sales to categorize my stories. It makes marketing a nightmare when your target audience is as broad as the human race. Which led me back to the question...what do I write? For now at least, this is what I came up with...
Real life dramas that are full of raw emotion, hot sex and enough laughter to get your through to the happily ever after's.
Of course, it is still a work in progress, but then again so is everything in life. Especially after anon's comments about characters. So I am chewing that one over, because above all else my stories are about the people (I hate the word characters). Life is not something that happens to us, but about the things that happen within us and how those things/thoughts/scripts determine how we re-act to those happenings. So yes anon, everything I write is character driven. It might not be the prevalent type of literature that is currently popular, but it is a valid one. And thank you for noting that strength of my works.
That, of course, begs the question...why do I write such character driven and 'artsy' things if I know that they are not 'saleable.' The answer is pure and simple...my readers. I recognize that the 'mushy crap' I write is not for everyone. But every time a reader takes the time, which is the most precious and limited resource we have upon this earth, to read, comment upon or email me their thanks, I know that I have found my place, my mission, myself. I won't lie, I do hope that one day I can make enough money out of it to survive. But a big a point of higher sales is getting these stories into the hands and broken hearts of those readers who do like/need my stories.
So who am I in this brave new world of indie publishing? First of all, I am damned thankful to be living today when the Internet and e-readers makes it easy to get your stories into the hands of readers. Not since the Middle Ages and the travelling bards with their songs and stories has their been a time when writers, singers and artists have greater control of their works and art forms. And for this storyteller that is a liberating reality.
For I am a storyteller. I am not an author, whose focus is upon their craft or a writer whose point is the story. I am a storyteller whose passion is sharing the hundreds of complex and very real people that lives inside my head with people who for the length of a story can see a part of themselves in the characters...and my greatest wish is that she or he comes away felling just one thing...HOPE. Because real life is sometimes even more complex, complicated, dark and long than my stories. And I hope that all my friends can find a small dose of raw emotion, hot sex and enough laughter to get them through to their own happily-ever-after's.