Monday, February 24, 2014

If Lynn Shephed Cares About Writing, She Should Try it.

Remember that I call my Blog "Genrefied." I do that because I genuinely believe that writers should write what they want to write and then do their best to sell it. I've written and sold horror, science fiction, comic books, roleplaying game rules and fiction, young adult fiction, and several fusions of all of the above. I am currently writing a crime novel with co-author Charles R. Rutledge, writing an apocalyptic sci-fi piece for one publisher (It hasn't actually been announced yet so I'll avoid dropping names), editing a media tie in novel for the Alien Franchise, waiting on line edits for a THE BLASTED LANDS, my latest Fantasy novel, Working out the final scenes for a weird Western, and am in negotiations for a third book in my Subject Seven Young Adult series. I've written advice columns and have a book of non-fiction essays under consideration right now.

I'm kind of all over the place and I rather like it that way.

So when I see someone called on doing exactly what I think we should all be doing, I pull out my soapbox and make a quick statement. This is one of those moments and the person I'm defending most assuredly does not need my help but she's getting it anyway.  Why? Because I admire J.K. Rowling and the article I'm disagreeing with annoys me.

I'm not a massive force in publishing and I'm the first to admit it.

Would I like to be? Absolutely. Will it happen? No idea, but I'll keep trying….

What I will NOT do, however, is resort to the sort of whining diatribe offered by Lynn Shepherd (Who has apparently written a couple of novels that are in print and more power to her) offers up as justification for why a successful author should bow out and make room for everyone else.

Here, take a break and read the Huffington Post article if you haven't already. It isn't overly long and I can wait. I work under the assumption that this is an editorial piece.

I'm sure that Ms. Shepherd is well-intentioned, but honestly, what a load of fecal matter. The gist of this seems to be that, because J.K. Rowling has achieved a phenomenal level of success, because the demand for her books is staggering, she best selling author should quit writing and allow more room for other authors.

I believe one suggestion comes down to Ms. Rowling knowing her place, and trying to contain her writing to things she writes for children and things she just writes for herself. How very rude of her to want to write in other areas.

Again, what a load of fecal matter.

Doubly so because Ms. Shepherd makes this (suggestion? demand? desperate plea to let her play at the big writers table?) in the same breath where she admits to having read none of Ms. Rowling's works.

I'm a mid list writer. I can accept that. I am a fan of writing. I love reading books. I love a good story. These are things that make me happy, and a lot of what I read might be obscure, but you can bet I can enjoy a well-written best seller with the best of them (and can throw aside a best selling piece of tripe, too.).

Know what I do when I hear about a writer that no one can resist? I go buy a book and read it. A lot of times I'm pleasantly surprised, though I'll also admit that there are plenty of occasions where I'm disappointed. It's the curse of being a writer, I think, that we're obligated to read with a critical eye and often find ourselves wondering what the hype is all about. It's also a delight when we run across books where the flaws are either minimal or easily ignored. Tom Monteleone once compared the writer's ability to read a book as roughly the same as a mechanic's ability to enjoy a good car ride. There's a need to pop the hood and checkout the inner mechanics to understand what makes that beast run so well or why the engine ticks and stutters. I don't think he's at all wrong.

What I don't do. What I don't ALLOW myself the luxury of doing, is whine about how somebody else got all the breaks or how that person's good fortune is somehow kneecapping everyone else.

I've never met Ms. Shepherd. She might be a mighty fine writer in her own right and she might have the very best of intentions with her article. I just completely disagree with her sentiment.

My advice? Go buy Ms. Rowling's books, any and/or all of them and find out what makes her a phenomenon. If that's too much effort, go the Hollywood route and Netflix the movie adaptations. Rowling shows more depth in her characters than a goodly number of successful writers and she also does what every writer should strive to do: She evolves as a writer.

Or, barring that suggestion, sit down and write another novel. Do your very best to make it amazing and  then do your very best to sell it. Then try promoting it and hope for a larger piece of the proverbial pie. In other words, EARN your way, the exact same way that Stephen King, J.K. Rowling Tom Clancy and dozens of other best sellers have managed over the years. The same way mid-listers have been doing it for as long as there have been publishers of popular fiction.

The results are probably going to work better for earning your place as a writer than whining about how somebody stole your seat at that big writers table.






30 comments:

  1. Bloody well said, Jim! When I first read Ms Shepherd's article, I thought it had to be satire and double-checked it wasn't The Onion I was reading. Nope. Part of me wonders whether she's done this as some weird publicity stunt, a way to bring attention to her novels, herself, or some other crazy scheme, but it appears she genuinely believes this. Step aside so others have a chance? No, Ms Shepherd, do what the rest of us do: make good art. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanted to believe it was a parody, but if it was, I fear I missed. it. :)

      Delete
  2. I completely agree. Just read the article and I'm with Amanda - it actually read like satire. I've never seen someone be so publicly jealous and ridiculous. Can you imagine if this was a slightly different situation and someone told Morgan Freeman to stop acting because he's "made enough money?" Sheesh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it's publicity ploy I suspect it's working, but….

      Delete
  3. Wow. You are exactly right: what a load of feces.

    I'm not sure that this woman doesn't understand that, at no point, has anyone decided there is a finite number of people who can be successful. More power to the people who have made not only a living, but a very good living from writing. It should give hope to the rest of us that are trying.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You know, I saw that article floating around the internet a couple times today. I ignored it the first time after reading that "What's-her-face" didn't read a single book by Rowling. So I ask, what makes her an expert? She never read any of Rowling's books, so where does she get off on bashing Rowling and trying to push her out of the writing industry? Simply put, just plain jealousy. Whatever friend she told the title of her article to, should have discouraged her from putting that piece of garbage article up there. I'm not usually so nasty and violent. I promise. But to rip apart an author you NEVER read. Puhleeze!! Rowling did evolve. She tried to write something else and while so many people claimed to be disappointed, I believe they were disappointed that it wasn't connected to Harry Potter. So she tried writing under a pen name. Trying to write something else on her own merit, without her name attached to it. Someone else on the internet actually accused her of leaking that little fact to boost her sales. Um. Why would she do that? She was trying to writing something people would enjoy and maybe later on be pleasantly surprised that she wrote it. I respect Rowling as an author. She's doing what we all dream of. Anyone kvetching about it is just jealous. No one is ever going to like every book written. You've got the right idea of reading it for yourself before you deem it golden or crap. Ms. Shepherd should follow this creed if she is wanting to be seen as a reputable writer as well. You don't bash people if you don't read the book and then you don't complain about them having a best seller if you can't sell more than three. Get over yourself, lady. Okay, I'm hopping off my soapbox now, as well. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now and then you just need a good soapbox.

      Delete
  5. I've been trying to figure out exactly why that article pissed me off so much, but you took the words out of my mouth (and brain). Thank you :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Perfect response here — well-done indeed. The only down side of addressing Shepherd's blog at all is that it draws more attention to it than it deserves. I wonder whether the lady has the decency to concede her point is ill-considered, or is she simply basking in the attention she's received for her very noisy admission of personal shallowness?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Excellent reply to that article, James. I suspect it is some weird publicity stunt, although what she expects to gain beyond universal derision, I don't know. I love the Harry Potter books and Joanne Rowling has done very well and worked extremely hard to get where she is. Successful authors tend to breed more successful authors as publishers scrabble yo replicate the success. YA has probably never been so popular a genre in a long time, so the articles arguments are without foundation. As anyone with half a brain could see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't see how anything Ms. Rowling has done could negatively affect publishing in general.

      Delete
  8. *claps slowly* Yes. Exactly. And well said. JKR has earned her spotlight. If Ms. Sheppard wants a spotlight she needs to earn herself one.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with your sentiments in general -- it's both more graceful and more useful to either write more or understand what's driving someone else's success, than it is to beg others to get our of your way.

    That said, mid-list writers are clearly doing a heck of a lot more to earn their salaries than A-list writers. This is certainly not the fault of the A-listers; but it does imply that there's a limit to what you can learn from them. At some point you've got to trust your own judgement or follow your own muse (pick your metaphor).

    Since you seem to be making a living, I expect you already know that ;-).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thing is, J.K. Rowling didn't start off as a best seller. She might have gotten there pretty darned quick in a relative sense, but she had to earn her chops along the way and she had to do it under a microscope that few people can truly appreciate. She got kids to read and that puzzled a lot of parents who decided (wisely) that THEY had to read what their kids were going on about. Religious organizations, small and large alike, parents activist groups, school systems…they were ALL watching her and waiting for her to make a wrong move. She earned her way. Why then should she suddenly drop all of her hard work for someone else?

      Delete
  10. This is excellent, I completely agree :) as a self-published author, I think that all the time spent whining about JKR's success could be better put to writing a great story :D

    ReplyDelete
  11. I had read the article on huffpost several days ago and it irritated me as well.

    I'm unpublished; yet-to-be-published is how I tend to look at it. :) Like you, I don't take to whining because Ms. Rowling scored a book deal. This is a business we're in (or trying to be in) after all.

    The part that really got under my skin was how it ended: "Enjoy your vast fortune and...give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe."

    In other words: you're rich, stop writing.

    Wow. How can you ask a writer to 'stop writing'? Money or not, success or not, I would bet that Ms. Rowling was as nervous as when she was shopping the first Potter book with her new one. Danielle Steele doesn't write action-adventures, Asimov wasn't known for his Romance novels, and everybody knows Rowling writes kids books. Stepping beyond what you're known for has to be a scary step.

    Anyway. I liked your blog post, and didn't like hers. :D

    ReplyDelete
  12. What some people don't realize, and I can't see how they can be so blind, is there is no entitlement in the writing world. Or anywhere for that matter. Being an author is having your own business. You have to supply a product that is unique and interesting, then get out there and sell it.
    JK Rowling, or any author who is successful, don't cackle with maniacal laughter while they pump out books, taking evil pride in stopping others. Someone who thinks their work isn't getting the attention it deserves is egotistical at best.
    Their willingness to point the finger at others for their lack of success proves that they aren't confident in their own work, aren't supplying something unique, or are writing books for a saturated market, or simply don't know how to market.

    Shonna White
    www.lostinfernal.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. I don't know how she could say something so asinine! I've never read any of the Harry Potter books, I've just never been a fan of wizzards and ectera, but if you're going to make a comment like that, then you should at least have read ONE of her books in order to say it. I'm not big in the world of publishing, I'm a writer for the love of writing, not in it for the money, but for the entertainment of other people. And if that is what Ms. Rowling would like to do with her life, then so be it! Even if she is making more money, and selling more books. Just because Mrs. Shepard hasn't sold any books, or very little, and isn't big on the publishing world, doesn't mean she can go about insulting and demanding that other authors quit writing to allow us smaller ones to dominate. I'm sorry, that is NOT what writing is all about.

    Micheal Larson

    ReplyDelete