Monday, April 15, 2013

Complacency in Our Writing

Good morning. As you all know I've stopped writing for awhile. Last year's writing/publishing frenzy has left me blocked, which may or may not be a good thing. We'll see how it goes.

But, because I haven't been writing, my brain has been left to rattle around in my cranium with nothing to focus on, so it wanders to and fro in its own little world. Last week, I happened to find an old book I had lying around that I hadn't read. Mind you, it was published in 2009, so it wasn't that old, but still.

(Funny how it takes New York almost 18 months to publish something, and then in 6 months it's already in the Dollar Store.)

Anyway, as I read this book, my little brain kept urging me to throw it across the room. It was an historical romance, by a very famous New York published writer. And I had read almost everything she's ever written, so I was dismayed when I got to the end and realized I SHOULD have thrown it across the room. (It ended up in the yard sale.)

I wondered then, why on God's good green earth, would her agent, editor, publisher, BFF, and mother, allow her to publish something that was just so ... dare I say it .... bleh. Not to mention her own self.

I mean, really. Where is her pride? Her intergrity to stand behind her work?

Don't get me wrong, I've had reviewers harangue me for my plot lines and characters, and some of my word choices, but I stand behind everything I've ever written. I think what I write is special, it's not your same every-day-run-of-the-mill historical romance. I don't write sex, but I insert the historical facts as accurately as I can get them and I think that makes up for the lack of voyeurism.

I make sure I trim my adjectives, keep my plot moving forward, don't keep repeating the same things every 5 pages. Readers, I have come to find, aren't stupid. They wouldn't read if they couldn't follow the plot. But jeez, this New York writer broke every single "bad" writing rule in the proverbial book by my standards. What's up with that?

When did these New York pubbed romance writers get so complacent? Is it because they know whatever they write will hit the best seller list? Or is it because their publisher doesn't care what they come up with and they know they'll sell 200,000 copies in those 6 months anyway?

However, one thing, I do know, I will not be complacent. I will always strive to have the best plot, characters, and story-line out there. I really don't want people throwing my book across the room.

Tell me -- Are you afraid of being complacent? What do you do to combat that? How do you define complacency in writing?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013


Linda G. said...

I'm not afraid of becoming complacent so much as I am of becoming rushed. Life has a way of intruding on writing time, and deadlines don't always cooperate.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It drives me crazy when bestselling novelists become complacent. In some of their cases, I think they don't care and they tell the editor where to go if he suggests changes.

I read one book by a bestseller and couldn't finish the book. He broke so many rules and it didn't work. I couldn't make it to the 1/4 way mark. There were too many characters. Too many points of view. Too much was happening. I was getting lost and dizzy. It's no wonder I gave up. I never read another of his books after that. And I used to love his books.

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- Good point. But then, if we are rushed, do we get complacent as well? I wonder.

Stina -- That was my case as well. I've read so many best selling NY authors from the beginning, and now when I read them, they're just so bad. I know writing is a business but geesh, you'd think they'd want to attract new readers instead of depending on just the old ones.

Maria Zannini said...

LOL. I'm too OCD to be complacent.

Re: complacent author
Big name authors have one thing that the rest of us don't. Their name carries clout, so if one book isn't up to spec, it's okay because the publisher knows it will sell.

It doesn't make it right, but that's the way it goes.

Bish Denham said...

I hope I never become complacent, but I do hope I can get over thinking I'm not a good writer, because I know I am... or so I'd like to think, but am I really? I mean... how do I know?

Deniz Bevan said...

I know how you feel - I had the same reaction the first time I read a specific NYT bestselling romance author - oh the cliches! oh the headhopping!
It just makes me that much more determined to write as well as I can!

Sarah Ahiers said...

Man, i can't even tell you how effing pissed i was at the Land of Painted Caves, the last book in the Clan of the Cave Bears. It's like Jean Auel didn't even try. I gave it one star on good reads AND wrote a review, two things i've never done before

Roland D. Yeomans said...

The last Charlaine Harris TRUE BLOOD book I read, I realized she was just going through the motions, that she didn't care about the characters anymore, and probably was writing only to fulfil her publishing contract. It hurts when the life dies in a series of books before they end.