If you’re at all active on Twitter and you follow other writers just as I do, you’ll soon see that there are many differing opinions on writing as a whole. Should a writer write every single day? What is writer’s block…and is it really a thing or just a convoluted excuse we tell ourselves when the ideas aren’t coming?
There are those who believe romance novels are porn. Those who don’t believe romance writers are actual writers. Those who don’t believe a woman can tell a man’s story (and vice versa). Those who call out others for writing in (what they interpret) as the wrong genre.
The truth is that there are a lot of opinions on how we should or should not write. When I first became active on social media, I took every “suggestion” to heart. Days I didn’t sit down and write the guilt piled on. I considered putting more grit into my stories, less sex and so on. Then something miraculous happened….I realized that just with writing, opinions are subjective.
That’s not to say I don’t consider what other people/writers have to say. It’s just that if I spent all my time abiding by the so-called rules of the craft, I’d never get anything written. I do respect those who feel as if they are an authority on writing. Let’s be real here….I have no formal training in this. I have - unlike some of those who are quick to offer opinions but have been working on the same first draft for over a year - actually stockpiled manuscripts. I’ve been writing for over twenty years. Again…please let me reiterate…I am no damn expert. What I am is stubborn. I flat-out refuse to allow anyone – author, reader, relative – to dictate how and what I write. Yes, I like to write romance stories. Yes, I’m okay with raw sex in what I write. I’m also okay with writing stories from a man’s perspective (I actually prefer it). And – even though the experts say I shouldn’t – I’ve got a handful of beautiful male/male romance stories that I plan on publishing.
I get it…I’m not a man…and I’m also not gay. Just like you wouldn’t drive a car without some training, writing gay romance takes “training” as well. I’ve read a ton of beautifully written gay romances; some written by gay men themselves, others written by women. I’ve also (gasp!) watched a lot of gay porn. Sorry if that shocks you, but really….how else did you expect me to figure out the mechanics? I have a dear friend who recently came out, and without being too crass I do pump him for information. The bottom line here, is that if you’re (as we’ve been told to do) writing what you “know”, I had to know all the ins and out (no pun intended) of that genre.
Anyway…my point in all of this is really simple….WRITE FOR YOURSELF. That piece of advice (in my opinion anyway) is far underused. Don’t write for reviews. Absolutely don’t write if you think you’re going to make a lot of money at it. Don’t write what the critics (professional or otherwise) think you shouldn’t. Don’t worry about using the proper commas and too many exclamation points. Seriously folks….if you have an editor worth his/her salt….THEY can pick your writing apart. No offense to my writer pals on Twitter, but this subjective art of ours is not yours to dictate. If I want to write romance, I’m going to write romance. If I want to write gay romance, I will. If I want to write a book about knitting, I can do that too. I’m not asking you to buy it. I’m asking you to respect me…the writer…just as you would demand that respect yourself. I’m asking for you to be less critical of other writers, and understand that like you, guilt and self-doubt are probably already reining supreme. I ask that we all – writers of ALL genres – treat one another with respect. Writing is difficult. Sometimes it’s so damn brutal you know it would be easier to give it up completely. But here’s a secret….the majority of writers are called to this art; it’s a heart choice, not a logical one. Think about it…who would intentionally put themselves out there like this, with their most intimate thoughts and words asking to be judged?