Monday, October 10, 2005

Sitting in the judgment seat?

I was browsing the net the other day and came across a blog that I've been thinking about off and on over the weekend, because it bugged. Here's the part that's been gnawing at me:

"To use a tired cliché, historical authors are on a sinking ship, and most will drown. A few will survive and prosper, but they will be in the distinct minority. Most historical romance writers recognize this and are terrified of the coming disaster. Yet most also adamantly reject the idea that surviving and–more importantly–thriving through a crash is not pure luck but is heavily dependent upon becoming that special writer that readers are looking for: Someone who writes something different than what everyone else is writing and who writes WELL."

No doubt this writer believes she writes both well and "differently" -- meaning her work is unique in some way. That's fine. More power to her. I have yet to meet a writer who doesn't believe he or she writes well (or they wouldn't submit their work to an editor). I also think every writer believes his or her work is unique in some way, whether it's style, voice, characterization or some other element.

But here's the important thing that this writer didn't explain (as noted by one commentator): Who else sits in the judgment seat and decrees one author worthy, and another mediocre? I've had some people love a book I've written, and other people consider the same book a gross waste of trees and ink. Unless we're talking basic grammar, writing "well" is a matter of taste.

As for being "terrified," I'm not. I have my days of despair, but it's not because of some "coming disaster" in the romance market. It's because I think I've got a problem.

And when it comes to some general coming romance market collapse, I've learned to ignore the cries of impending doom, not because I'm too stupid to read the writing on the wall, but because I've been told medievals don't sell since before I sold my first one in 1991. I'm still writing medievals, selling medievals and it was a medieval that just made the USA Today list.

However, if and when I can't sell historical romances, I do have Plan B, and C and D, all the way to Z. After all, nobody ever guaranteed any author a long career, even if they write "different" stories or "well."

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