Saturday, February 05, 2011

gender bender

Even with two days of snow days, making my workweek a whopping two days, I needed the weekend desperately. It was so nice to sleep until almost nine this morning! And, while money this month is about ten times tighter then it normally is (decided to pay a little bit more than normal on my credit card bill—not sure why I did that), I’m happy to have only one massage this morning. Then the rest of the day is all about my nephew. While I miss having Saturdays for friends and dates and such, I look forward to these moments from the minute the last one ends. I can’t figure out how my love is able to grow for that kid. Doesn’t seem like it should be humanly possible. Even as I blog, I’m downloading LeapFrogJunior to my Mac so I can upload some books for him. If you have kids in your life, BTW, the LeapFrog books are rather amazing! However, at least the system I bought Gavin seems to suck the battery life instantly.
In my discouragement with the books, I’ve been contemplating different options, or different/extra step I need/should take. The thoughts I was having yesterday morning were confirmed by a dear co-worker of mine. One that I trust a ton, one that has been rather brutally honest with me in the past about my writing. She is a little over a fourth of the way through Submerging Inferno, which will be available on Amazon again in a week, and she loves it. Her husband can’t get her to put it down. She gave me two huge pieces of feedback, one about editing—which is why it won’t be available until next week—and one about the marketability. She said that no one will ever read this book because of the gay content. She said that if it were straight characters, it would get published instantly and be a success—especially since it’s gonna be a series. She, by the way, is as far as you can get from homophobic or not supportive. This came from a very good place within her. It was exactly what I’d been thinking about that morning. She said I could easily change one of the main characters to a girl, and she felt it would be a huge success.
I think she’s right.
I’ve played with the idea for a long time now. I think I might be able to pull off a pretty good career with regular books.
Here’s the deal: I love writing. I love my books. Even more, I love, love, love my characters. I no more want to sell them out then I would sell out myself. I know that my audience will be minuscule. And the gay community isn't exactly known for their love affair with reading. Nor are gay books known for much depth. With a few exceptions, they are either poorly written stories or simply an excuse to write porn. (This is a generality, I’ve read a few amazing gay authors—check out Bart Yates, wow!) One, most selfishly, I want to write what I love, what I relate to, what I’m passionate about. Two, I want to give my community something it’s never had before. Three, I think what I’ve done/will do has value.
While I really would love a career that would simply allow my to write—or at least have it be my second job instead of my third—I don’t want it at the expense the afore listed reasons.
I think it hit me hard because it was exactly what I’d been thinking—it seemed a confirmation. However, what was also a confirmation is how my heart sank when she said it. I pictured myself writing those, changing my characters, and it instantly made me not want to write. Couldn’t get a much clearer answer. Maybe one day I’ll sell out, but not yet. Not yet. Maybe I should simply write Christian fiction. I’d be able to tear genre up!
Actually, that sounds kinda fun—for lots of reasons.


Reid said...

Just because you change the gender of a character to make your book marketable does not mean you change WHO that character is.

I think it is a brilliant idea, and does not take away what you are trying to do.

Brandon said...

Ah, Reid,
How I love you and love how supportive you always are, and how you take time to even read these. However, as I'm sure is no surprise to you, I couldn't disagree with you more. If you changed me to a girl, you would intrinsically change who I was--the struggles I've gone through would have been very, very, very different. Nearly every experience would have been altered, creating me into someone very different than who I am. The same is true for my characters.
I agree that it wouldn't change what I want to do as far as simply being a writer. However, the kind of writer I want to be--the kind of writing I enjoy--it would change that irreparably.
But you know me. I tend to be stuck in my ways, stubborn, and once I give my heart, I'm not sure how to get it back--even if I give it to characters that aren't real, so it seems. :)

Reid said...

Oh I get that sweeetie, I would not have you any other way! Your new challenge is less about your creative style and more about how to sell your books. Market demands are not sensitive to creative ways or processes. If you do decide to keep the niche (which I think you will) it will be a frusttrating marketing process since you will have limited your sellable demographic. But I love seeing you grow with it all :)

Brandon said...

As always, Dear Reid, Thanks for your kind words and your endless support. :)

dwain said...

If Mr Darcy had been written as Ms Darcy, Pride and Prejudice would be ineffably different than it is. Your question, one which I think you've clearly answered, is whether sales or personal satisfaction are your ultimate goal.

Now, if you want to get really interesting, have the character's gender change in the middle of the novel!

Brandon said...

Dwain, you crack me up! Good point, I hadn't thought of it as clearly as that!
And... it could be fun to have them take a little trip to Trinidad...