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Ya never know when a topic a’ conversation will open yer eyes up ta somethin’ ya haven’t considered much afore. I was speakin’ ta me mentor, Jenna Petersen, a few weeks past ‘bout the topic of genre…on the Revenge, a few days later we was discussin’ not only why we write, but it meandered inta who we write fer…
Taking off me 2nd Chance persona for the moment, let me continue.
This got me thinking seriously about the whole idea of integrity within the writing mind. What it means to the writer isn’t always the same as it means to the reader, the editor or the agent. These are some of my conclusions.
If writer A loves the challenge of writing for contests... Loves the sculpting to exacting standards, loves the test of pleasing assorted judges, loves to study score sheets and figure out what she can ace, loves to tweak and trim passages of a MS and see this as part of her brilliance… GREAT! Really! This author is being authentic to their calling and has the right to view herself as talented and wonderful. Because she is.
If writer B loves to ford her own path… To thumb her nose at the very idea of contests, of standard formats, loves to poke at beloved templates and trample over the lines between genres, loves to write with disruption in mind and sees this as part of her brilliance… GREAT! Why not? Again, this author is being authentic to her calling and has the right to view herself as talented and wonderful. Because she is, too!
Writer C writes for her audience. They are the most valuable part of the decisions she makes with her characters, her plots. She knows what her reader wants and she gives it to them. She follows strict guidelines, never rocks the boat of her genre. She has a contract, not only with her editor, but with her reader and she honors it… GREAT! Another author being authentic to her calling…she is talented and wonderful. (Let’s face it, this isn’t easy to do!)
There are as many writers as there are examples. (Stay wit’ me here…) Long as the writer views herself as authentic, there is integrity. It may not be the path you chose to walk, but it is authentic to that author. I can’t write to contest standards. I flat out can’t. If I try the tweaking process I will make myself sick. I might succeed, but it won’t fly by my personal standards of what is authentic for me. But it might for you!
How did I come from a conversation with Jenna to talking about authenticity and integrity? I expressed my continual frustration with feeling lost on the sea of genre classification, with not knowing where my stuff fit. We were talking about erotica, erotic romance and romance…how to write for what. Where the lines are, etc. And somewhere, in the midst of listening to her, I heard something that rang true for me… I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it was a real Obi Wan moment for me. And the key were the words priority and authenticity.
If I write something that isn’t authentic to my story…if I try to fit something in, force something in because of influences outside my vision…it won’t ring true. Not just for me, but for a reader. No matter how much I want to slide into erotica, no matter if my story deals with sex (and most of my stories deal with sex in one form or another…) I can’t make it erotic… And long story short, it doesn’t have to.
I fell into the trap of assuming that if I had some blunt language, some unorthodox sexual situations (most of my stories deal with unorthodox situation in one form or another…) that I had to look at erotica as my market. My calling.
But it wasn’t ringing a bell for me. It didn’t feel right. It wasn’t authentic to my vision. My stories feature sex…period. The sex isn’t the priority. To be authentic, to carry integrity, I needed to consider what the priority was.
I have a confession to make. I don’t write romance. Romance is not my priority. It’s the icing on the cake, usually. But sometimes it’s just the ice cream on the side.
Sex isn’t the priority either, though it is near the top…often it’s the flavor of the cake.
I’m still working on where I find my writing priorities. And it may be different for every story, though I think I’m going to find an all encompassing thread running through my stories…. I’ll let you all know when I figure it out…
To wind back to where I began. It’s different for every writer. The process is different for every writer. Not just why we write, but how we write, what our priorities are within the process…
Is the HEA your priority? Is it STW? (I made that one up. Save The World.) Is it save the puppy? Save the soul? Open the soul? Is it to poke holes? Open eyes? Poke eyes? Lift spirits? Comfort? Challenge the paradigm? Rant?
Do you find yourself reading for the same message? Favoring authors that fit into your comfort level? What rings the bell of authenticity in you? And what are you looking for if so? Ever thought about why?
If it’s all about feeding the soul… As a reader, as a writer…what bit of authenticity is your soul hungry for?
(I had to follow a blog on sexual turn ons... Sigh.)