I always learn so much from the authors I interview on the radio show that it amazes me. One thing I am still trying to internalize, something other writers have already achieved, is accepting other people’s opinions of what I do. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, I love my job as a romance writer as much as I hate it. I love the creativity, the positive feedback, the freedom and the people I meet. I hate the negative feedback, the arbitrary nature of the biz and the judgment I often receive because what I write is not “important”. Hell, I know that I’m not penning great literature, but what I am writing is something that might just help the reader escape for a little while. If I make that reader laugh, or smile, or forget the laundry, or economy, or heartbreak of the real world then who cares if I haven’t written the next Oprah bookclub pick? I liken it to this… how many times can you watch Schindler’s List before you need a break from the drama with a little Mel Brooks? There is room in this world for both.
I always feel like this when I’m exposed to ‘real’ writers. Those people who write poetry, or non-fiction, or real-life/memoir-inspired fiction. There is one thing I know soul deep and that is this-whether I am considered a ‘real’ writer by others or not, there is no questioning that I am a ‘working’ writer. The greatest compliment I ever received was given by the head of Fremantle Media after a pitch session where I was on the phone from NY, and my writing partner was in the office with him in California. I’d hung up and he said to my friend, “She’s very commercial.” When Chris told me what had been said, I asked, “Is that good?” He said, “That’s very good.”
Yes, I am commercial. I write what sells, but I also write what I enjoy. That small distinction is what keeps me from feeling like a career whore. I’ve found hot sells. The hotter the better. Threesomes sell even better than M/F romance. So that’s what I’ve written lately and you know what? They’ve all been best sellers. To have looked at the Amazon.com Best Selling Romance/Western list and seen my paperback sitting at #6, surrounded by the likes of Linda Lael Miller and Diana Palmer told me I’d made the right choice.
I know I am a ‘working’ writer because I make money doing what I do. No, it’s not a huge advance from a big name NY pub, but it is damn good money considering I spend most days sitting at my keyboard in the comfort of my own home. No commute, no gasoline bills, no work clothes to buy.
I know I am a ‘working’ writer because the ‘book of my heart’ is not sitting under my bed waiting around for the perfect book deal. Instead, my 13 full length novels, and many other assorted short stories are on shelves and in eReaders being enjoyed by readers.
I know I am a ‘working’ writer because I have edits, deadlines and schedules. I lose sleep, I don’t have time to cook or clean and I go days without changing out of my PJs because of those edits, deadlines and schedules.
So why do I still feel lesser? Does this stem from the RWA controversary about what makes an author ‘published’? No, not really, at least not this time. My first menage, Rough Stock, earned me more than $600 in 30 days, so I am sure that more than 7 months after release, most of that time sitting on the Amazon paperback category best seller list, as well as the fact it hit the ARe Top Ten and sat for a long time at #1 at LBR, I’ve well earned over the required $1000 on a single title to be qualified to join RWA’s PAN (Published Author Network). It’s not RWA. It’s other things in my life but the feelings are no less strong or real than my disagreement with RWA’s policies.
Interviewing other authors helps. Speaking with writers like best seller Joan Johnston for the radio show. A woman who left the legal field to write romance novels. A woman who used to hide the Harlequin book she was reading in her briefcase so no one knew she was reading it. She stayed up until 5 am to meet a deadline and finish a book so she could travel to BookExpoAmerica to promote her work. She is a working writer, just like me.
So no, I don’t pen poetic prose. I am commercial. I am published. I am a working writer. If you don’t like it, then you better get the hell out of my way.