I used to get so bent out of shape at the writers in this genre. Several months ago, I was fueled with a lot of anger and a lot of jealousy.
The books I wrote – were solid. The reviews, great.
But I wasn’t selling.
And then I would read something that was sort of what someone would refer to as ‘brain candy’ and I would get angry that they were a huge seller.
I was bitter.
I kept asking myself, how is that happening?
I mean, here I am giving people depth and great stories filled with powerful subject matter which was being lauded by those who took the time to read it.
And then I would make 24 dollars a quarter. Twenty-four bucks.
My worth was tied into the money and not the art.
And in that moment I started reading reviews of other people’s work. But only the negative ones.
I danced on other people’s pain when their book got skull dragged through the mud because I was jealous of their success.
And it doesn’t mean that some of my anger wasn’t justified. It was. I had asked a question about the way gay men were depicted in this genre and immediately was set upon by people who instantly accused me of misogyny and told me I should be quiet because I’m privileged – as a man. They completely dismissed and disregarded the fact that I am a queer man and because of that fall under a totally new set of circumstances. And because I am a queer man – when I accepted that label and in turn accepted that lifestyle – what privilege I did have went up in smoke.
Because the truth is – when you come out as gay – even to women – you’re feminized immediately and can sometimes become the butt of some white liberal’s jokes.
I had been summarily dismissed.
I couldn’t write. I couldn’t read it. And for a writer unable to write – that’s agony.
There’s a problem when you toss out words such as privilege and accuse people of things like cultural appropriation and bigotry. Those things are boomerang terms. And eventually, because all things are NOT equal, they’re going to find their way back to you. I watched it happen to an author who accused me of misogyny. He put out a book and got slammed for it, himself.
Because someone, somewhere is always waiting for someone to make a misstep. Someone somewhere who probably couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper bag is always waiting in the wings to take someone down. And Romance – a genre this is set upon anyway – is always a soft target. And so are it’s writers. There are those who do, and there are those who talk about those who do. We call them, critics.
But here’s the thing. The writer/ critic dynamic is not set apart. We are symbiotic. One cannot exist without the other. And when you have toxic writers or toxic critics – all is left is a total mess that everyone else will go out of their way to avoid. And from the outside looking in, I can see why people would avoid us, or make fun of us. Because, of course, this would happen in this genre.
And social media has made it possible to sit behind the computer in the safety of your own home and say some of the most vile things a person can say to another with anonymity. Things no one would DARE say to another person’s face.
So here’s the thing – you can please some people all of the time or you can please all of the people some of the time. But you will NEVER be able to please all the people all of the time.
So don’t try.
The pressure isn’t worth it.
Write your stories. Do your best. Because in reality, the dream of being the next New York Times bestseller is as much a pipe dream as a gay guy being able to convert his straight best friend into domestic loving bliss.
It’s a fantasy. All of it.
And at the end of the day, some people need a way out of their reality. If this election has taught me ANYTHING – it’s that some people don’t want the seriousness or the heaviness of Queer literature. They don’t to read about someone’s past, or their pain, or the road they’ve traveled. It reminds them too much of what they’ve lived through even if they’re not queer.
People are hurting – and sometimes it’s not the responsibility of artists to reflect the world around them. Sometimes it’s our responsibility to ease the tormented soul. And if werepenguin shifters, MPREG, and GFY is the way out ……I’d rather they take that road that to sit in their misery.
Straight people will NEVER know what it’s like to be gay. Ever. Just like I will never know what it’s like to be a lesbian or a bisexual or an African American. And asking me to know, 100 percent, on point, all the time these nuances of people and personality and background – is the height of privilege, ironically. And we know the difference between someone who tries and those who are in it to make money.
But at the end of the day – so does everyone else .
I’m just tired of being angry. I’ll write the world I see, how I see it, and the things that I’ve experienced. And I’ll publish it. And I’ll be waiting for those who want something more – even if that doesn’t make me a bajillionaire.
But i am done perpetuating hurt. I’m not going to junk punch everyone who wanders over the minefield of wounds this life has given me by mistake.
I’ll just be an artist. And I am totally okay with that. Maybe I’ll be famous when I’m dead. I don’t write m/m Romance. I write queer lit. And that’s cool, too.
To those, I’ve offended in the past. I am sorry.