Sunday, November 1, 2009

But What I Really Want To Do Is Write

Today is November 1, which means it's once again time for NaNoWriMo. For those of you who think I'm talking more nonsense than usual, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to crank out a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.

During my general blog surfing, I'm always surprised by how many reader bloggers turn out to be aspiring authors. Naturally, several of them are going to be participating in NaNoWriMo.

I'll admit it, I'm a little touchy on this subject of reader/reviewer/aspiring author. You have to look at my history. Back when I landed in the online romance community (back when dinosaurs walked the Earth) - you had three major sources for romance novel reviews. The Romance Reader, All About Romance, and Mrs. Giggles. Certainly other sites joined in later - but those were really The Big Three. What separated TRR, AAR and Mrs. G from the print publications that reviewed romance (and really, there weren't that many of those either) were that all three would occasionally ::gasp:: not care for a book. Unfavorable reviews happened.

This was a foreign concept for a lot of authors, and naturally some of them weren't happy. Mud-slinging commenced. These sites were accused of enjoying "slash-and-burn" style reviews. All we did was nit-pick stories to death. Which was a bunch of horse-hooey. As a former TRR reviewer I can tell you I wrote way more favorable reviews (A, B, C grades or 5, 4 and 3 Hearts) than I ever did unfavorable (D and F or 2 and 1 Hearts). But the perception was that we had it "out" for romance writers. This naturally brought up that old charge that all of us were a bunch of jealous, nasty biddies who ripped apart "good" books because we were "frustrated would-be wannabe writers." Since our crap manuscripts had no doubt been soundly rejected all over New York, we decided to build up our little egos by shredding the work of more talented and published writers.

Sigh.

Sadly, this bit of nonsense still gets tossed around to this day - only this time the targets include not only "old guard" reviewers, but fairly new on the scene bloggers as well.

Now certainly I'm not saying there is anything wrong with reader bloggers being aspiring writers. What I am saying is that not all reader bloggers have that desire or aspiration. Some of us, truly, have no desire to write. Of which I am one.

I've long said that if I ever were crazy enough to try my hand at writing a book, romance would be the very last genre I would pick. Why? Because hot damn, all that emotional "stuff" is damn hard to write! And then you have to make it believable! Holy mother - no way in heck could I do that. Nope. If I were going to write, I'd pick a crime novel (because I'm blood-thirsty) or straight-up erotica (because I'm a deviant). But not a romance. I don't have it in me.

This all being said, I don't really want to write. Besides the fact it's hard, I lack a little thing called desire. When you write, you have to want it. You have to work for it. You have to sit your ass in the chair, and write. You have to write when you don't feel like it. Write when the words won't come easy. Write when you'd rather have bamboo shoots shoved underneath your fingernails. It's hard work. Hell, if it wasn't hard every John and Janie Yokel would fancy themselves being able to do it.

And actually, some of them do. Take it from the librarian who routinely receives unsolicited, self-published "manifestos." ::shudder::

So for those of you out there with aspirations to one day be published - I salute you. It's hard work. I appreciate that it's hard work. Which is why I don't do it. That, and the fact that I lack a little thing called talent. And drive. And anything remotely resembling ambition.

How many of you blog and are aspiring writers? How many of you blogged as aspiring writers and have since been published? And how many of you are like me and have no aspirations whatsoever?

41 comments:

Marg said...

I have absolutely no desire to write a book! I am more than happy to just be a reader!

SarahT said...

I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. I wrote long before I ever blogged, so writing is not exactly a new departure for me. However, I see my blog as a reflecting me as a reader first and foremost. I rarely discuss my writing on it.

I'm not overly concerned with what people think of me writing as well as reviewing. I don't see why they should be mutually exclusive. Equally, I don't think every book blogger has the goal to be published one day.

The blogs I gravitate towards tend to be those focused on reviewing and discussing books rather than those which concern themselves with writing. I don't know why this is. I belong to a couple of online RWA chapters, so I suppose I get my fix of writing talk there.

Sandy Williams said...

*raises hand*

I can't understand how people who want to read don't want to write. Don't get me wrong - I'm happy about that fact - but it seems so natural to want to tell my own stories.

I don't mind bad reviews ('course, I don't have pub'd bks yet). I get that not every book is for every reader.

PeggyP said...

How interesting this discussion is -
I fall into the "don't want to write" group, it's all I can do to manage a comment now and then. I'm the most happiest of readers though and really appreciate a storyteller that can suck in me in and make me believe in their characters. And that is what makes me a blog reader - tell me about the books you loved (or hated), turn me on to someone new, that's all I'm looking for!

AnimeJune said...

*tentatively raises hand* I want to be a writer. My blog was actually about being a writer and what I was working on before I eventually turned it into a review blog.

I kinda hate though that the "you're all jealous" excuse keeps popping up (I've blogged about it too) or even worse - "you're not published so who do you think you are badmouthing my book?" Yeah, because only published authors are allowed to read your book once it's published. *eyeroll*

I'm not strictly participating in NaNo this year. I already have a novel I'm wrestling with but I AM planning to see if I can finish my first draft by December 1st. I really want to have a finished product in time for RWA 2010.

azteclady said...

I don't want, I don't imagine I want to, I know I can't.

Thank you, Wendy!

Mireyah Wolfe said...

I freely admit it. I'm a blogger and I'm an aspiring author! (I'm actually doing NaNo lol)

sula said...

great post, wendy. I get sick of the old trope "you criticize my awesome book becuz you are just a frustrated wannabe writer". wahhhh! I'm a reader, not a writer. I don't feel any inclination to get off my lazy butt and write. Reading suits me, and I get to have opinions about what I read, regardless of whether or not anyone else agrees. But of course, I am glad that others are out there writing. heh. :)

Kristie (J) said...

I wouldn't say I'm an aspiring writer and I wouldn't say I'm not an aspiring writer - I'm still kind of on the fence. But what I CAN say - without question - is I am NOT and aspiring ROMANCE writer. If I ever do move off the fence and into the writer side, romance is the last thing I'd write too. I think in order to write it, for me, I'd have to give up reading it - and that is not ABOUT to happen.
So - nope - no frustrated romance writer wannabe here!!
For now and the foreseeable future, I'm happy just doing a blog about reading romance.
Now if I retire - or semi retire - I would think more seriously about writing more then.

Anonymous said...

Nope not a romance writer. I am a technical writer which I actually enjoy but can be boring. I do love to read romance novels. After a day of slogging through computer manuals or trying to make sense of a scientific concept, I like to escape. Good discussion

Amy said...

It depends on what day of the week it is, whether or not I want to write a book or if I just want to leave it up to the professionals and others who have that burn to churn one out. Personally, I kinda like the idea of sitting back and being entertained.

jmc_bookrelated said...

I write a bit for my day job, although not for publication or wide circulation. I have no talent for fiction-writing nor do I have any interest in pursuing it as a second career. Reading and trying to blog coherently about what I read is struggle enough for me.

I found RWA to be a bit frustrating in this regard. I wrote on my badge/pass beneath my name that I was a reader, not an aspiring writer after being asked about a dozen times what I wrote. I cannot tell you how many published and pre-published and aspiring authors told me that I would end up writing sooner or later. Uh, no, thanks.

I wish all the bloggers who are aspiring writers the best of luck with NaNoWriMo, and hope to see them back to blogging in December.

Mandy said...

I tried NaNoWriMo last year. I completed the challenge and discovered I suck at creative writing.

This year I've set a reading challenge for myself. I posted about it. Maybe it's something you (or others) would be interested in.

http://tinyurl.com/ybvo2la

nath said...

Not an aspiring writer :D Sometimes, I like to make my own stories, but I tend to gravitate towards the melodramatic and sappy. So I know it wouldn't be very good.

Phyl said...

Nope. No desire to write here. My creative side is expressed through my quilts and that is enough for me. Just like writing, quilting is WORK. And reading is --for me-- relaxation.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I admit that I am a proud aspiring author. Have been since I've been 14. Blogging has helped me channel my inner muse, my willingness to sit down and want to write. A day does not go by where I don't think of writing or I am writing.

I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it and if I never get published, I will still write.

JamiSings said...

I have absolutely no writing talent or desire to write. My talents and passions lie totally in singing. And no, I don't want to write music either. I just want to sing it.

JenB said...

I have no authorial aspirations whatsoever. That strikes most bookish people as odd (or they flat don't believe me) since I have a language degree, I've been editing since I got out of college, I have tons of writer friends, and I even go to writing conferences. But seriously, I don't want to write. And, like you, if I did write, I wouldn't write romance. I'd write either nonfiction teaching materials or maybe some really depressing, nonromantic women's fic.

My parents even ask me when I'm coming out with my own book. Obviously, since I read all the time, hang out with authors, and know how to make a book shine, I must be a writer at heart. *headdesk*

And, as a romance editor, I have my own thoughts about the quality of writing NaNoWriMo encourages.

Lynn Spencer said...

Count me in as another person who isn't doing NaNoWriMo or planning to become an author. I love reading, I love reviewing and blogging, but I find that enough. I have tinkered with the idea of starting my own personal blog as Rachel from our site has, but that's about the extent of it for me.

Reading a good book is what really makes me happy and I deeply respect the people with the perseverance and talent to produce them!

Cathy in AK said...

Add a tick mark in the aspiring author column for me. But I rarely use my blog to discuss writing or the industry, and never to rail against authors, books, agents or editors/publishers. The closest I come is pimping author friends' books.

I think a writer, published or not, can be a decent reviewer. And for any reviewer finding a book D- or F-worthy, it's how you phrase the comments.

A Library Girl said...

Well, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo, but I have absolutely no desire to have anyone read what I produce. I certainly don't want to try to get the results published, since it's likely that, even if I do manage to make it to the finish line (after participating for 2 or 3 years now, I still haven't been able to reach 50,000 words), I doubt I'd ever get around to expanding and editing my writing. I do NaNoWriMo because it's fun to see how far I can go and what I can come up with.

When I was a kid, I wanted to become an author one day, but I eventually realized I didn't have the drive for it. I have never been able to make myself sit down and write everyday, and I've always been too thin-skinned to show many people what I've written or to take criticism of my writing well. I still like writing, but I'm happier, now, just being a reader without being an author.

Renee said...

I'm another reader, not writer. Though for clarity, I guess I'd say not a creative writer, but I do consider myself a "writer." I've always known I don't have the special kind of creativity it takes to write fiction, and I've always admired those who do have it.

Even in college, though, my Lit degree emphasis was in critical writing, and that is what I enjoy. (Lit majors at my uni could either take a "creative writing" emphasis or "critical writing" emphasis, and as much as I loved hanging in the Humanities bldg coffee bar talking books, I was never the "arty" type.)

I love to interact with other readers, and that is why I started my blog. Writing was one of those long unused muscles I've rediscovered as a result of keeping my blog.

Great food for thought, Wendy!

SonomaLass said...

I wish more bloggers who read and don't write would join Mandy in her great idea of NaNoReadMo (see the link in her comment above, or my blog). I want to support aspiring writers, because without writers I would have nothing to read! I'll bet there are many of us who feel that way.

I am a terrible creative writer, but I'm a good reader. I'm also a decent editor, so I end up helping my DP on his fiction projects; he creates, I critique, it works.

Tara Marie said...

And how many of you are like me and have no aspirations whatsoever? That's me :) No desire, no time and no talent. I do think that writing is a calling, some people have it and some don't.

Jill D. said...

Yep, I am with you Wendy. I have no desire to write. I am a reader first and foremost. Also, it's like being a movie watcher. I watch movies, but have no desire to produce a movie. Same concept - I think. It takes a certain type of personality to want to express their creativity for the masses.

Jane said...

Nope, no desire to write. When would I have the time? Whenever I get frustrated with book blogging, I always say I'm giving it up to be a craft blogger. My other passion is sewing and crafty things and if I could quit my job and design little girl clothes for a living, I think I would. Writing would be way down on the bottom of my list of "want to do before I die."

Mariana said...

I don't want to write, but I would love my mother's story to be told (with a HEA).

I don't have the "X" to write: desire, words, ethic... it is extremely hard. I guess that's why I so admire those that can do it so well.

Katie Mack said...

No aspirations to be an author for me. Like Lynn I've toyed with the idea of starting a personal blog, but that's as far as my writerly ambitions go.

Lynne Connolly said...

Just - you go, Wendy!

Tumperkin said...

Yes, I blog and write. I see them as quite separate cos my blog is very much a reader blog. They serve very different purposes: I write because I've always wanted to write. I blog to share my (reader) love of the romance genre with others - since no-one in my RL-life has any interest really.

I have mentioned my writing on my blog but only really in passing. The one time there has been a significant event on my blog vis-a-vis writing was when I published a post asking if anyone was interested in CPing with me. That exercise netted me a brilliant CP, and the goodwill I'd built up on my blog definitely helped with that.

What strikes me as interesting about your post is that the assumption of the authors you mention is that the reviewers they are complaining about are coming at books from an writer's perspective (albeit a jealous unsuccessful one). The reviews on my blog are written from a reader perspective. And yes, I do think there is a difference in reviewing 'as a reader' and 'as a writer', particularly if (like me) you are an unpublished and inexperienced writer. If I reviewed books from the perspective of 'could I do any better?' my reviews would probably be on the whole much more positive. But as a reader, I feel I can be much more objective and - yes, judgemental. And that's because, as a reader/comsumer, I feel I deserve a book that does what it promises.

Jenn said...

I blog and I'm an aspiring writer. But I'm not a reader blogger. I mostly blog more as a daily journal for myself and as a way to get my brain in the habit of writing everyday, regardless of subject or style.

However, I *love* reading your reviews!

CindyS said...

Hmmm, I toyed with the idea of writing a romance, tried it and made it to page 3. Then I got bored and lazy.

Now, I'm too much into something for money. I would write a boring, unappealing story where everyone died at the end - best seller written all over it and of course, movie deal. I'm just saying, wouldn't write romance - unless someone died at the end so I could make millions.

Oh, yeah. Apparently I'm delusional also so no, I don't write.

Kee B. said...

Never would have thought you weren't interested in writing. Always like to hear your take in your reviews. You definitely have a "voice" that's easy to read.

I will admit to being a wannabe writer. I actually come lurk on your blog as a warm-up to my writing time. I think that if I didn't write on a regular basis, all the stories in my head would leak over into real life and then I'd really be screwed.

If I only I didn't have that pesky, time consuming 8-5 job that puts food on the table...

Shon said...

No aspirations to EVER be a writer. I choose another career. Ktxbai.

Keishon

Rosario said...

No writerly aspirations whatsoever. I love doing reviews and I really enjoyed writing columns a few years back, but fiction? No way.

Tracy said...

I appreciate that it's hard work. Which is why I don't do it. That, and the fact that I lack a little thing called talent. And drive. And anything remotely resembling ambition.

Word. and a really loud AMEN.

I salute them but don't want to be them. I'm a reader and I love being a reader.

Wendy said...

Lots of really great comments and I've been out of the loop since real life is just Ugh! right now.

I was particularly struck by Tumperkin's comment. Reviewing from a reader perspective as opposed to a writer perspective. Definitely food for thought....

Kwana said...

I'm a blogger who is a writer and was a writer before I was a blogger. So far I've written 4 complete manuscripts. This is my first Nano year. I feel like I've jumped to the crazy side of the mountain.

C2 said...

I have absolutely no desire to write. Reading = fun! Writing = work.

Lazy? Who me??

Nicola O. said...

Reader, blogger, not writer.

I tried-- took me about 5 years to do 100 pages. And they, uh, weren't so great.

As C2 so succinctly put it: "Reading = fun! Writing = work." Yeah. That.

@Sandy - "but it seems so natural to want to tell my own stories" -- Problem is, not all of us HAVE stories trying to get out of our heads.

The blogging chops I've developed have me thinking about writing some non-fiction though, in my professional field.

Kelly said...

I love this discussion! I've gotten an angry email from an author for a review I wrote about not loving their book. I think I was pretty fair about it, but her point was that if I really wanted to be published one day, I should rethink posting non-positive reviews. It kind of destroyed my motivation to review for a while.