Please welcome aspiring author, TN Tarrant!
First of all, I want to thank Gabrielle for giving me the opportunity to confuse you all, hopefully enough to make you curious about my creations, the Rimalians, and for her contributions to my book addiction....It's a good thing I don't have to answer to anyone about the absurd amount of money I spend on books.
I'm very new to the writing scene, and as of this writing, unpublished, but that's okay. I'm meeting some wonderful and wonderfully odd people. Since I'm very much one of the oddballs, I can't but think that's a good thing. Most of those I've talked to have been encouraging, and supportive, including Gabrielle, which leads into the questions I've gotten in the year or so that I've actually been writing with intent, so to speak.
I have always written, and even gotten some stuff published, in high school, but you don't get paid for the high school paper, and one thing has been consistant: Don't quit your day job. Writing's great, but it doesn't pay the rent. Well, that's good advice, although it's not very encouraging, is it? And that advice always seems to be followed, at least for me, with, "Why write anyway? You're not likely to get published...." Thank you very much, for assuming, without having read anything I've written, that I have no chance. I'm well aware that it takes not just good stories, but good luck to get published, that doesn't mean I or anyone else shouldn't bother trying. Besides, not to put too fine a point on it, but what else can we do with ourselves? If your characters are like mine, they yammer, whisper, scream, talk over each other and otherwise set up such a ruckus you have to write them down just to shut them up-unless you write something that hurts them, then they get pissy with you for that,even though they insisted you write the bad happenings (picture aggravated expression here.)
The other week I had a conversation with some of the women in my family, two aunts, a grandmother, and young cousin. I was proudly telling them that I had just received my first rejection notice (from Silver Publishing:),) and this lead to several comments. One, that the notice was just a form letter, (it wasn't, but it wasn't worth arguing about it) two, that I'll get a lot of them, (probably, but that's okay), and my favorite, why can't I write something like Twilight?
First, I'm not Stephanie Meyer. I don't want to be. She has made a great deal of money writing a very nice, fairly enjoyable piece of fluff. I've read all four books, and eventually I'll see all five movies, and more power to her for having captured the perfect moment to be a success. But I'm not trying to write for the teen market. Maybe she wasn't either and that's just what happened when she sat down one day. I'm writing for an adult market, and I seriously doubt that anything I write would translate well into a movie. I'm not knocking fluff writing, because that's exactly what I'm writing, and indeed, most of us do. I'm not writing the next world-changing book, I'm writing stories I hope will give somebody an escape from reality. Just a break for an hour or two. If you read something I wrote and you have a good cry, and a good laugh, and you don't feel it was time wasted, then I did exactly what I tried to-wrote something that others enjoyed.
Then it was, "You know what sells in my consignment store? Westerns. Why don't you write those? Those you could make money writing."
Okay, let's pick that apart. Westerns do sell. A lot. Having worked as a book manager in an entertainment store at one point, I know exactly how well they sell. It's a comfortable little market, but still nothing on the romance genre. Then there's the fact that I have absolutely no interest in Westerns. I asked, "How can I write something I have absolutely no interest in?" I was told, "Just train yourself to do so. You can train yourself to write them." "Not very well," I replied. "Sure you could, if you just trained yourself to." Well, that's kind of a compliment, isn't it? Auntie has faith that I can learn to do well something I have no interest in doing at all. And she does have a point, to a point. We've all learned to do things we don't want to, and we can do them very well. I hate janitorial work, yet I'm extremely good at it. I hate math, but I can add, subtract, multiply and divide, all by hand if need be. But there is a huge difference between doing something that is a necessary task, and doing something that requires inspiration. I don't need inspiration to clean a toilet, but I do to write a story. I'm not inspired to write about horse rustlers and saloon girls. Hot guys driving each other 'round the bend, on the other hand, oh yeah, I can get behind that. Throw in tangled cultural and familial issues, along with the occasional kitty cat that likes to go for walksies, and I'm your girl.
Which brings us to how well can you write something you're not inspired to write. How do you do that? It's not a report that can be researched, after all. How do you bring to life characters that you can't feel? How can you lead a reader into laughing their hind ends off or crying their hearts out, if you aren't doing so when you write it? I spend an embarrassing amount of time trying to act like I'm not crying when I'm writing, or trying to edit what I've written, if there are other people around. People tend to be more accepting of the fact that you read something hilarious, than that you read something that made you cry. The cultural impetus behind that is probably enough to fill a few sets of encyclopedia, so I'll leave that alone. I can't imagine trying to write characters that I can't see and hear in my head, and I can't imagine that any other author could either.
"Why write about gays?" Okay, it wasn't put that politely, but still, that's how it should have been phrased. Maybe the better question would be, "Why write about straights?" What's the difference? For me, it's as simple as that's what is flowing. I have a M/F that may never be finished, I've only been stuck on it for eleven years, and it just doesn't talk to me. Maybe I lost that window of opportunity when those characters would talk to me, because of other things going on. Maybe I'll wake up out of a sound sleep tomorrow and finish the dang thing because they suddenly decided they want their story finished. Or maybe they don't care because I know what happens in that story. I know what happens to them, to the villain of the piece, the aftermath. Maybe they don't care, because we know where the story goes. Yet the first M/M/M story I wrote, was 104k in less than a week and a half(before you get too mad, I was unemployed at the time, so I had a LOT of time on my hands, lol,) and I was absolutely clueless as to who, what, where, when or how. Maybe my imaginary friends are only interested if we're all clueless. One character simply refused to take the blame for somethinng while admitting blame for something worse, forcing me to figure out who the other villain was.
Gay romance seems to flow pretty easily for me, to a point. My characters argue and pout sometimes, and refuse sometimes to let me do nice things for them. My favorite example of that is the pair that were supposed to meet at a Christmas wedding, and it be a nice, joyful, insta-happily ever after. Noooo, they wanted instead to meet in ICU, after one of them was nearly killed by his wife. Other times they do silly things, such as make very bad jokes(that's my fault after all, I don't know any good ones...) They do truly stupid things, and they do truly wonderful things, because that's the way we all are in reality. I've done some truly stupid things, and some truly wonderful things. Isn't that true for all of us?
Why can't you change ____ about this character? Because then it's a different story, and that's not what's yammering in my head. I have several manuscripts that may never see light of day (unless I self-publish them somehow), simply because certain aspects of the story are taboo. Can I change those aspects? Sure, when I want to destroy a perfectly good story. Might as well say, "Excuse me, would you mind cutting off a couple of fingers please? I'm not comfortable with how they fit you." Don't get me wrong, I understand the problems involved, yet the fact remains, to change the story to fix those problems, would destroy a good story, and give a lesser one in it's place, I refuse to do that. So you may never meet some of my characters, except in passing, in other peoples stories. That's sad, but those characters remain whole, instead of maimed. I'd rather they collect dust than get maimed. Why should our muses inspire us if we're just going to maim the gifts they give us, hmm?
Which, of course, leads to: What inspires you? No clue. I've written three shorts directly because of open submission calls from Silver, and two of those were related to two manuscripts that may end up collecting dust, so they will collect dust too, yet I wrote them anyway. Talking to another author led to inspiration for a character, yet the character is nothing like the person who inspired him. Some that are only supposed to be background...coloring... turn into main characters themselves, such as a certain cat named Empress. Many of my characters have traits that I see in the people around me, from sweetness and innocence, to judgemental ignorance, and everything in between. Pride, fear, loneliness, hope, stubborness, tenacity, pettiness. All the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly, it's part of all of us. I try not to make my characters too perfect, but on the other hand, isn't a Happily Ever After story supposed to be perfect? I've merrily been typing away on one story when suddenly another set of characters start talking over the ones I was working with, until I set aside the first and start writing them, instead. What else can I do? If I ignore them, I may lose a wonderful story, and the others aren't going anywhere, and sometimes it's better for the break. Sometimes going off to do something else lets me see a problem with the first WIP, and even give me another direction to take it, so it works better. I've created a wonderful culture, the Rimalians, with a long history, and lots of background to create stories with.
What if you never get published? Then I'll keep doing what I'm doing now. I'll go to work at my Every Day Job, so I can pay the rent, because unless you're lucky enough to be fairly well established and published with enough of a following to make enough to pay the bills, writing isn't going to pay the rent. Do I want to get there? Oh yeah. I'd love to be able to just write for a living. But unless and until then, writing isn't paying the rent, so I'd better keep going to the EDJ. I'll just keep writing what my imaginary friends want, to whatever noise they want, whether it's cartoons, music, or marathon repeats of T.V. shows. There's no rhyme or reason to that either, the weepiest story I've written so far insisted on being written to Looney Tunes in the DVD player. Another insisted on Monty Python episodes, and another wanted shake the walls thumping rock music. One of my current WIPs insists on on repeats of MASH, and weepy music and it's one of the funniest I've written. I don't argue about it, I just drive everybody else crazy. I don't want to lose a fight with an imaginary person after all. That's just embarrassing.
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