Thursday, March 1, 2018

I Gotta Be Me

Is it better to be original or to give ‘em what they want? And, would you do it for free?

From Jim 

🎵   I GOTTA BE ME   🎵

“A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” 

If I had been following trends or trying to figure out what readers wanted, I never would have embarked on writing a first-person female narrator in my Ellie Stone mysteries. I began my series featuring a plucky 1960s heroine because she was what I wanted to write. Had to write. Sure, I hoped readers would love her and make me rich by buying loads of my books. But that was not my original motivation. And it doesn’t mean I gave ’em what they wanted either.

Oh, my first book, STYX & STONE, was received well enough. But no one hoisted me on their shoulders to carry me from the room. And there were a couple of extremely unpleasant voices challenging whether it was appropriate for a man to write a woman in the first place. Not necessarily whether I had done a decent job of that, but whether I had the right to do it all. One troll who trashed the book famously (well, not so famously) proclaimed she hadn’t read the book and didn’t need to. I, a man, couldn’t possibly have done a good job of writing from the female side of the tracks. I certainly do not want to give people like that what they want.

I believe that even if you can fool some of the people some of the time, as Lincoln so rightly observed (Hell, just look at our last election...), I would hasten to add that you can’t fool them for long. If a writer doesn’t believe in what s/he is writing, it will bleed through the ink, and readers will sniff it it out. So, as for “giving ’em what they want,” I say nope.

Do I strive, therefore, to be original? I’m not sure. But I am passionate about what I write. And, as with anything I feel passionately about, I would do it for free.

1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

That's okay, Jim. You may not have given that not-famous critic what she wanted, but the rest of us are pretty happy with you and Ellie!