Gabrielle Bisset

Monday, May 9, 2011

Banishing The Negativity Demon

I commented on another author's blog this morning about banishing the toxic elements from our lives, particularly our writing lives, and then I opened my email and BAM! There was some toxic waste like no other. 

Without getting too much into it because I'm sure I would offend someone and I'd like to avoid that, I entered my book, Stolen Destiny, into a couple writing contests a while back.  It's a long story, but a friend convinced me that if a regency romance in which the heroine and hero are named Goodly and Wicked could do well, mine would be fine.  I found out right after I submitted my entries that Siren had offered me a contract, so it was a moot point anyway since neither contest was open to published authors. 

I received the judges' scores from the first contest a while back and saw that, in fact, my dear manuscript was not fine in the hands of these people.  Because I don't conform to the quite strict "rules" of romance writing, they didn't appreciate the story; at least that's what their comments indicated.  My hero is terribly flawed, and my heroine isn't feisty enough (hint: she's not a pain in the ass who continually gets in the hero's way); I don't adhere to the strict POV rules that seem to govern romance stories, except for those written by Nora Roberts (I prefer the much freer style like Roberts' that seems far more natural to me for my novel length stories); and the sex in my stories is steamy (one judge had a problem with the word cock--said it was a modern word and seemed odd in a flashback to the late 1700s--I won't even comment on such a statement). 

Today's email was much like the first.  They don't like the POV style, mainly.  The hero issue didn't bother them so much. But the sex made their knickers bunch up. 

Just like after the first email, I felt the negativity begin to settle into my brain.  Then a friend of mine reminded me that this is a very parochial organization that runs these contests, and in the end, I have to be true to myself.  He's quite right about the parochial nature of the group.  I didn't realize this when I began entering these contests, but the comments show me that clearly they are all about heaving bosoms and turgid manhoods in only a few chosen time periods with cookie cutter heroes and heroines. (Ugh! That may appeal to some, but if that's what makes something "good", then I'm happy to be different. My books would NEVER have the people in today's pic on the cover. NEVER...EVER.) 

So what have I learned from my experiences?  Being different can be painful, but I refuse to be someone I'm not.  Also, critiques full of typos, written by people who haven't been published and write in a genre that includes no real sex are not what should make or break an erotic romance writer's day.  However, I must seriously question an organization established to promote writing that has typos in its monthly magazine, typos in its official emails, and allows people who write children's books to judge paranormal romance contests that writers pay money to enter. 

Now it's back to writing.  Maybe I should enter my novellas into the contests. They do follow the strict POV rules.  But alas, there is more steaminess in them too.  And that nasty modern word!  ;)


C.E. Hart said...

I feel we should strive to be mavericks. Conformity is fine and dandy in some situations, but 'breakin all the rules' so-to-speak often leads to success.

Best to you and your work!

(I'm cheering in your corner.)

Julius Cicero said...

Tell your story how you want it to be told. Art is what it is to the artist, not to everyone else (unless your searching for a patron). I don't care much for rules and guidelines much myself, and will tell my own story the way I intend. Stay true to yourself.

Gabrielle said...

Thanks guys! I'd be ok with a patron, Julius, but is there such a thing in romance? lol To thine own self be true. :)

Julius Cicero said...

I'm sure there is, but your story might not be as well known if you had a patron. A happy life consists of tranquility of mind- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Suzy Turner said...

Well done, Gabrielle, for sticking to your guns and not changing your manuscript to meet the requirements of someone who is, frankly, unimportant! Your writing sounds brilliant and don't let anyone tell you any different.
Suzy Turner

Gabrielle said...

Thanks Suzy! I seem to have chosen to write in a genre where any deviation from the rules is strictly verboten. C'est la vie!

Kate said...

The good thing about READERS is they tend to appreciate all sorts of differences. I remember when, back in the day, all romances had the obligatory non-consenting sex scenes. They disgusted me to no end. Then a few authors came out and though unpopular at first, changed the industry.
I admit to being the type of reader who prefers some of the more sensual and less graphic romances, but there are PLENTY of women out there who prefer them. I was just talking to one the other day.
Stay true to your writing style, because READERS, not critics, are the important part of getting your books finished.

Gabrielle said...

Thanks Kate!