Friday, May 14, 2010

Reading and Writing

Are you finding the kinds of books you like to read on the shelves of the bookstores?

This is part of my realization that I'm not writing for the current market. There are, I fear, few new writers who really appeal to me. It may be that I'm just stuck in my old ways, of course. I do read new people now and then, especially when they are FM writers. Otherwise, I look through the shelves, pick up a book or two -- and I rarely find anything that draws me in.

I've seen the market change a number of times. Right now, I think we're into a reaction from the Harry Potter influence. People really didn't want to read nothing but Harry Potter type stories. Well, neither do I, even though I mostly enjoyed them. We are reactionary people though, and we often swing in extremes in everything. It's not a wonder that a lot of the material out there is about as far from Harry Potter as you can get. As readers, we rarely look for the middle of the road. We want extremes. However, at the same time, an extreme is likely to turn some people away. Not everyone wanted to read or write Harry Potter stories, even if it looked that way for a while.

And that leads back to 'write what you want to read' -- something we often hear as writers. That doesn't always mean they're adventures we'd like to share in on a personal level. We do things to our poor characters that make their lives far more miserable than I would ever like to experience on a personal level. However, I do write what I want to read. I don't write for the market as it currently looks on the bookshelves because that is not what I would normally read. Does that mean I'm not writing for any market at all? Am I the only one who wants a story that is less gritty, less gruesome and less concerned with the sexual side of relationships than with the friendship side? I like to think that men and women can be friends (or men and men, women and women, alien and human -- you get the idea), and I like to have that shown in my stories, rather than always getting them into bed. Sex has happened now and then in my stories, of course -- but it is not the main focus of all my writing.

The last fiction book I read was C. J. Cherryh's Deceiver, the 11th book in the wonderful Foreigner collection. Next up for fiction I think will be to re-read all the Dresden File books by Butcher and end with his new one, which I haven't read yet. That won't take me nearly long enough, I fear. I also re-read all the Foreigner books before the new one came out. That was a wonderful ride!

And I come back to my work. I want to live the adventure. That's always going to be my focus, whether I do it well or not. Quite often there are hints and teases of a sexual nature, but they are spice, not the stew.

And I don't care for dark, gritty, gruesome details. I have noticed that I don't respond to horror the way that others do. I've read the remarks of some people who said things like 'I shivered at this point' while that same point just made me go 'yuck.' Not the same kind of responses at all.

Do I get the things I want to read in my own stories? Not always as well as I would like, but then I think that's true of a lot of writers. Lately, though, I've been doing final edits on material and finding that I'm a lot closer in some cases than I thought I was. I'm enjoying the stories and the editing isn't nearly as bad as I expected.

I am also looking at Closed Circle, the new online store for ebooks by C.J. Cherryh, Jane Fancher and Lynn Abbey.

The three are experimenting in new ways to reach the reading public. C. J. had an interesting comment (which I will paraphrase because I can't find it now). She said that when a new editor would step into a publishing house, that person would often want something new and different as a mark of change. And that would mean that a carefully crafted story universe might have to be put aside to create something entirely different.

I've seen this happen in epublishing as well, though not as dramatically. I find it troubling that decisions on what we get to read could be based on this kind of decision. I understand that much of what we are offered is already based on someone else's taste -- and that's why we tend to like certain magazines over others, for instance -- but the idea that it just has to change to make change bothers me.

Everyone should support Closed Circle. The three authors have a vast array of science fiction and fantasy work available there in ebook format. This is mostly previously published material, but there is also some updates and some new things.

And yes, I do see this as a growing trend in publication. Professional authors are facing the same problems with the economy that the rest of us are, as well as dealing with a shrinking publication market. They are looking for ways to reach readers, and ebooks provide a good way that is economical for all concerned.

I have quite a lot of previously published material, too. So, yes, this did start me looking towards an idea like this. I've known about Closed Circle since before it opened, and watched it with more than avid interest. There are two others who are interested in joining me in a venture like Closed Circle, with either new or old material. This is looking more and more serious as the weeks go by, and I find myself looking forward to it. It's an experiment. I've always said that writers shouldn't be afraid to experiment, and for those of us who are especially prolific, it's time to see what changes in the market we can use to reach readers.

That's what it's all about right?


J.A. Marlow said...

Horrah for less gruesome. And gritty. Argh, I hate that word when it applies to stories, especially if it's combined with 'realistic and'. It usually means it ISN'T. It's just 'ick'.

I look forward to see what venture you start up and how it works. Keep us posted!

Margaret said...

I think that's why so many adults are reading YA now. Things that I read as adult novels when I was a kid are now reclassified because they're not full of grit and sex. Now don't get me wrong, I like a tale where I can feel the machine oil on the engine and the grit between the floorboards, but not all the time.