Good Writing Vs. Sellable Writing: What’s The Balance? or Oh Goodness….When Will It End?

It’s been hot in Colorado. Not Phoenix hot, but typical Colorado August with additional mugginess. It makes for one cranky writer. I’m balancing edits on the proof copy of the paperback version of The Esau Emergence, working on the second book in the Continuum, and working on a story that has been making a lot of noise in my head. Oh, I’m doing laundry here and there. I’ve cleaned the house and vacuumed until the heat raised to baking. I’ve worked at cleaning up the hail damaged yard, mowed the lawn and thought about the ton of rock we need to move this weekend. The temp rises and I haul my computer to the bedroom, crank on the window AC unit and write. 

I like background noise when I work on editing or research or other internet work. I usually  listen to music or pick something to stream on television. If I’m writing I’m strictly a music person. I’m prefacing this post with some background information. I read the Twilight Series. I saw the movies. I own the movies. My hubby knows I’m sick when I’m inclined to watch them. My students loved to accuse me of reading them. This is how I explain it. You like cupcakes, right? Well, I like cupcakes. I can’t eat cupcakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ll be sick. The Twilight novels are cupcakes. Guilty treats that are fun occasionally. In the meantime, you need nutrition. Protein and vegetables, food that sustains you. I would say The Hunger Games Trilogy is more of a meal.

I realize as a new author some folks might not think I should be critiquing an author that sold millions of copies, made millions of dollars on films and has rabid fans. After all, I hope to have those things as well. I am, however, an English major with a bachelors and a masters degree in Education, English Education and English.  I’m qualifying myself here. I didn’t think those books were particularly well written. I’m talking craft here, not sell ability. She hit the bulls eye for a large audience. The Esau books are good books. I’ve said this before….good reads, not LITERATURE. I’m okay with that. I’m working on some literary pieces. Back to my point, I was looking for some noise and I streamed  The Host on Amazon. I read The Host a long while back and thought it a much stronger story than the Twilight novels. The movie wasn’t bad, not great, but it moved at a good pace, it had hunky young men and added action scenes to keep things moving. Oh and William Hurt in a folksy, introspective role…can’t beat that. The story was a bit flat. I decided to read the book again….this time to listen to the book again. I downloaded the audiobook and listened to it while I was cleaning….the kitchen, doing laundry,

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. People ask me what I’ve written and I can honestly say I’ve written several books, short stories and essays. I’ve published my first book this summer. I’ll publish more. I read The Host before I really thought about pacing, editing and beats. Listening to it on this end of crafting a book was a new experience. It’s crazy. I’ve struggled with first person narratives. I just recently rewrote the entire first chapter of that noisy story because I initially worked it in first person narrative….it’s tricky. Meyer’s novel is first person narrative….kudos to her for putting it out there. The book is at least 100 pages longer than it needs to be, but she was bold for trying. This novel is an example of the sellability argument. Somebody published this novel on the hopes that it would tag along the best seller list with Twilight. It might have, I didn’t look at the numbers. The story was a good one. The plot and characters had potential. The ubiquitous verbiage needed to be trimmed, cut, edited, paired down….you get my drift. It was downright painful listening. 8 hours of listening…..I skipped a lot.

I don’t remember reading the book. I think I blocked it out as traumatizing. Needless to say, my recent dilemma about what to cut and what not to cut is still a dilemma. How much to tell? How much to leave out? Am I really in love with that scene? My decisions, I hope, will be easier, more objective from here on out. “Slow in the beginning….” is haunting me. Time to get my craft on task. Scalpel at the ready!