Thursday, 29 November 2012

Falling Out of Love...?


I think we're all familiar with the age-old advice that you should probably only write in a genre you read and love? How often have you heard authors criticised for writing in a genre just because they think it might be 'easy' or lucrative and not because they read it themselves? If this is true, and if the basis of which genre you should write in can be gleaned from your current bedside-reading stack, then according to my current Goodreads To-Read bookshelf, I should be...wait for it...

...a Sci-Fi / Fantasy author.


That's right. Wall-to-wall Stephen King, Robin McKinley, Charlaine Harris, J.K. Rowling...the list goes on. I've even made a separate bookshelf called 'Guilty Pleasure' on which to store these non-Romance sins, as if they were my junk-food addiction! It appears that I am a secret-reader. A sci-fi/fantasy binge-eater.

It has not escaped my notice that of late, I have not been particularly...enthusiastic, shall we say, about reading romance. As this is my genre of choice, this poses a little problem, as well as the question, "WHY?"

(Okay, not as in, "OH MY GOD, WHY?!?" Let's not get overly dramatic.)

So I've had a long, hard think about this (read: sipped a glass of wine and pondered during the commercials of the hot hot men of Chicago Fire). I've advised myself NOT to panic. But it begs the question... have I fallen out of love with Romance!? And if so, am I writing in the wrong genre?

After some deep soul-searching (or was that deep fridge-searching?...still watching Chicago Fire), I came to a semi-solid conclusion for myself.*

The reason I haven't read anything romance-y in a while is because I hadn't found anything really GREAT that is romance-y to read. Maybe I've been frequenting the 'free books' section of eBook sites too much. Maybe I haven't been actively pursuing the best authors out there. All I know is I have countless novels on my Kindle of which I've read the first page and then hit the HOME button in a hurry. I'm not reading them because I'm not enjoying them, and I'm not enjoying them because I DON'T LIKE THEM.

So this is obviously where I get on my (little white) high horse, right? No, not really. Okay, granted, some of these books were complete drivel and were painful from the first sentence, but some of them were just...not my style. Coming to this conclusion reminded me of something very important. It reminded me of why I started writing in the first place. That, "I could totally write something as good as this," moment. That, "I know what I LIKE and I want to read THAT," moment.

The reason I may not be someone else's 'Perfect Reader' (and run away after the first page) could be because I am MY OWN perfect reader. Okay, that sounds weird and pretentious, but really, it's why I write in the first place. I like to read about a particular kind of guy. I like to read about a particular kind of girl. I like a particular mix of mystery or suspense or psychology or whathaveyou.

So this got me thinking. Am I actually thinking carefully enough about what I like as a reader when I'm writing my stories? Because if I'm my own perfect reader, I better write something that is a) GOOD, and b) something I'm going to LIKE.

So what next...?

I'm going to try two things:

1. Find some romance I really love, and read/re-read it. Rekindle the spark. Remember what I loved about it and why.

2. Nail down what it is I REALLY, TRULY love to read about, and make sure I'm putting 100% of that into my writing.

So what drives you away from your genre? Is it true that you should read predominantly in your chosen section of the bookstore, or should one have a varied diet?

Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it.    ~ Jesse Stuart

* Disclaimer: This may not be the same reason that YOU stop reading romance. You might have found a new hobby, for example, such as crocheting or reading Fullmetal Alchemist. Each to their own.