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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

#IWSG: Liking Out of the Mainstream

First Wed of Every Month

          Wouldn't you know that my first Tossing Out Post of 2013 would be about insecurity!   Will thirteen be an unlucky year?  It's not something I'm counting on so let's hope not.  But since it's first Wednesday of the month, insecurity is the topic du jour.

Me--the Different Drummer Marcher

           A somewhat tepid response to my recent review of Veronika Carnaby's Bohemia was still another reminder that my tastes in literature are a bit out of the mainstream.  My stats for that post indicate that several hundred hits were recorded, but less than twenty visitors took the time to comment and the response from over half of those who commented was something to the effect of "this is not a genre that interests me".

          The scary part of this is that not only Carnaby's book is in a genre that I prefer to read, but this genre is closer to what I tend to write.  Perhaps her style is not necessarily the style I write, but the tenor of my style is similar.  This is probably why I feel such an affinity for Carnaby's book.

          Likewise for Flannery O'Connor--I sometimes tend to approach what she tried to do, not by imitating her style, but taking a similar thematic bent.  Who else is reading O'Connor just for personal entertainment or whatever you might call it?   When I mention Flannery O'Connor most people haven't even heard of her let alone read her work.   She's mostly for the scrutiny of college literature classes.

Don't Get Me Wrong

          I don't want anyone to come to the conclusion that I'm trying to rank myself with the likes of O'Connor.   And I'm expressing my admiration for Carnaby's new novel, not saying I want to write something like it.  I want to tell my stories in my own voice.  If I publish something that I like because of what I'm saying in the story and the way that I'm saying it, will I find the readers?

           Insecurity, yes, the demon of self-doubt is apparently diverting my attention.  I've got all of these projects started in one way or another, but I keep finding excuses not to finish any of them.  Is it due to my genre of choice?   If I am trying to write with more of a literary leaning, but not adept enough to pull it off, will I have lost audiences on all sides?

           "Just do it already", some of you are saying.   I know, I know.  Perhaps I need to reassess my genre interest.  But no, I'm not sure that's a good idea.   I know what I like, what I want to read, what I want to write.   I just don't want to waste my time.

             Perhaps I should go with the philosophy that anything finished with an honest effort and a belief in what one has done is never a waste of time.

            Yeah, I like that.  But it still doesn't totally eliminate my insecurity.

             In my next post I'll be talking about reading outside of ones genre or comfort zone.  Then on the post after that I'm going to examine the concept of taste or why we like what we like.  In this post I'll also be giving my thoughts on the 2012 film Marvel's The Avengers (yes, I finally saw it on DVD).

              Do you write in a genre that you feel is not overly popular?   Would you compromise your personal  preferences to write in a style or with a theme that would be more popular to more people?   When you've written something that you've felt was exceptional but was met with a lackluster response what have you done about it?  

 First Wednesday of the month means another edition of Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.   You can discover more participants here.

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  1. It might be more difficult with a genre that's not really popular, but then again, you'll probably write something that's far more original than most of us. I'm aware my genre and my books aren't the most original in the world.

  2. I think that writing what you want to write, even if it does not fit in a popular genre or mainstream is just fabulous. I think that is the whole point of writing, doing something different. I take my hat off to you, because I wish my brain would write something that was not so generic.

  3. I cringe when I see bad reviews on works I enjoyed. Makes me realize that what I like, not everyone will. I know others won't enjoy my books, and that's okay.

    Keep at it!

  4. The thing is that while the genre might not be too popular now, it doesn't mean it won't be in the future. You just never know how trends and tastes are going to go.

    I write what I like to read then go from there in trying to find it a home. Maybe that home doesn't appear for awhile - or at all - but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth writing it.

  5. Oh Lee, you know you just need to go with your gut and write what you've got inside you. Just get it out there and then do everything you can to direct people there and once the right audience finds you - they will spread the word! 2013 - the year of writing success!!

  6. MY YA series was against the grain. But I'm glad I didn't compromise just to sell more books. It all depends on your goals, Lee.

  7. I think it's GREAT that we all have different preferences. It means a lot of sorts of writers can succeed. And yes... some genres are going to be for smaller markets, but that is the beauty of this day and age, eh? That you could find an ePublisher or self publish and you don't need to sell tens of thousands of books before you and the publisher make decent money.

  8. I agree with others - I do think we need to write the books that call to us to be written and not worry about the genre. Just write, Lee. The rest will take care of itself.

  9. Alex-- What if my actual output falls way short of my aspirations?

    Murees-- What if my product is really trite and not all that different?

    Miranda -- What if I didn't get any reviews at all--not even bad ones?

    Madeline -- What if I write in a genre that does have a relative popularity, but it's just not accepted by that audience?

    Sheila-- What if I'm merely deluding myself about the worth of my work?

    L.Diane -- What if I still don't have any realistic or clearly defined goals?

    Hart-- What there is absolutely no market and I waste my time and energy?

    Karen -- Okay, I'm going to stop with the questions. It's more work than actually responding to the comments. Playing this insecurity game can be a lot of work. I'll take all this good advice and encouragement into account and go with it.


  10. The book I queried last year is against the grain, but I don't regret writing it or getting rejected.

  11. What just be you and write -- you. That sounds like an authentic plan and a good one. :)

    Happy New Year, btw.

  12. Well, you probably know that I'm all for writing what you believe in, not what you think others want. Even when people are writing to the market, I don't think people feel any differently about what their writing. If you're trying to write to what you think the market is, though, and you can't find an audience, no one will like it. If you write what you like, at least you like it, and that's the most important thing.

  13. I honestly would only really personally like to write in a genre that interests me simply because if the genre didn't interest me then I'd do a poor writing job on it so there would be no point. Great post Lee, personally the only reason I'd not write in a different genre is simply due to my lack of talent.

  14. I love Flannery O'Connor's short stories, and no they aren't "popular" these days. I never (You're the exception.) hear her work mentioned on blogs, yet she contributed a body of work to literature that will be around a lot longer than most of what's being published today. I say write what you love. Read what you love and--as you have done here-- share that with the knowledge that you may encourage someone to expand his reading repertoire.

    Here's to a fabulous 2013.

  15. Rachna -- We shouldn't regret that into which we have put an honest effort.

    Teresa -- You're right. I just like to play "what if" scenarios sometimes.

    Andrew -- I like that answer.

    Yeamie -- I think you have more talent than you are giving yourself credit for.

    C.Lee-- Thanks for the encouragement. I'll probably do just as you say.


  16. I LOVE Flannery O'Connor. If you are writing in that style, carry on. I'll be there to read it.

    I secretly hope to be the next William Faulkner but with a feminist slant. :)

  17. Some of the best books started on the shore but the popularity pushed the genre into the river and some into mainstream.

    The best part of non-mainstream is that the people who do read it are more likely to love it. ;)

  18. Tonja -- I won't say that my writing style is much like O'Connor's, but there could be a similarity in what I'm trying to convey thematically.

    Southpaw -- I like the analogy that you've presented.


  19. I believe the best writing comes from down deep...not via trying to write "in the style of." Here in this blog Lee, you have a strong voice. It sounds from the gut honest and true. That's the voice and style that encourages me to read you!

  20. You have to write what makes YOU happy. At least that way you'll know that at least one person will like it, hehe. But seriously, I don't imagine switching to a genre you're not comfortable with will do anything to improve insecurities.

  21. Literary may not be popular now, but all things eventually return for at least a short time. And literary isn't dead; it has its following.

    I write for a specific audience; even in fantasy or thriller. Sometimes it's not the usual rote fans. I tried to fit my fantasy and contemporary both into the YA genre so I could have a better chance of selling the novels, and the writing was atrocious. I think we all have to please writing selves first. If the author isn't pleased with it, how can others be.

    Keep writing your offbeat stories Lee. They will find an audience. It may take longer, but you certainly have the drive to go out look for alternate solutions.


  22. “You're gonna be knowing the loneliest kind of lonely. It may be rough going. Just to do your thing's the hardest thing to do. But you've gotta make your own kind of music; sing your own special song. Make your own kind of music, even if nobody else sings along.”
    ~ Mama Cass from ‘Make Your Own Kind Of Music’

    The vast, vast majority of people are followers, NOT originators. (If you doubt that, start counting tattoos and body piercings.) And that's why on those rare occasions when we encounter someone who is truly confident to just be his or her own self, they always stand out. We may not necessarily like the person, but we definitely NOTICE them.

    Nothing I ever wrote went anywhere, but I never compromised my vision; I never attempted to write something "commercial" or attempted to capitalize on something simply because it was currently popular.

    I've failed, but I've failed on MY terms and by being true to myself. I would have rather succeeded while also remaining true to myself. But in the end, I'm sure I'd rather be an authentic failure than a successful phony.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  23. My comment didn't upload? Ugh!

    Basically I said I have a few new books in the pipeline with deviations from the breakthrough trilogy, but I think there are enough similarities that I don't think I'm branching off into a new genre.

  24. Hey Lee, I just read your review of 'Bohemia' and I gotta say that I am going to check it out asap! It sounds exactly like the genre I like...I totally know what you mean by writing in an unpopular genre. Most times I feel that way, that my style appeals to so few people that it's almost not worth doing...when I took one of those 'who's style is your writing similar too?' quizzes, my writing was compared to David Foster Wallace..(I know I know...everyone's thinking, "WHO?"...which is exactly my point!)(and don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I have any of his talent or am in any way comparable to him)...
    ..I say, keep reading and writing what you want, in your own unique voice and style. The people who don't get it aren't your audience anyways..and it is soooo true, the world is over filled with fry cooks and hardly any real yourself.
    Writers are a dime a dozen...true artists and creators are rare.

  25. I wonder how anyone could write a really good story about something that their heart wasn't invested in.

    It seems selling out is harder to do than anyone would think. I have to believe that even the terrible books being published are someone's dream.

    Keep on dreaming, keep on believing, like someone else has already said, at least you will know that one person liked your story. YOU!

  26. You mentioned something that has always fascinated me. Out of several hundred hits in a day, I might receive fifteen to thirty comments. I've always been curious of who those other blog readers are.
    As for a genre that isn't so popular, it will be popular when one book is released that catches wind. It will be THE genre for awhile, then disappear.

  27. Liza -- I really appreciate what you've said.

    Nicki -- You've pretty much expressed my philosophy.

    Donna-- My stories may not be as offbeat as I'm making them sound. But as Rick Nelson once said, "You can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself."

    StMc -- I know you're right about this and there's nothing that I care to argue about the point you've made. It's back to Ricky Nelson's quote.

    Stephen Tremp --Anxious to see what you've come up with next.

    Eve -- I think you would appreciate Bohemia. Yes, I don't want to be a flash in the pan.

    Faraway -- I knows what I likes so that what I writes. I'm with you.

    Ciara -- Yeah! Who are those mysterious people anyway? Come on and say something folks. Can you imagine how our comment boxes would overflow if they actually did?


  28. I think that whatever you decide to write about will be worthwhile. You will know when the timing's right, and everything will fall into place. You are so busy helping others, and never do anything halfway, and your writing will continue to reflect that.


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