#ReadWithMe ♥ Reading the Write Way

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Welcome back to another ‘Read With Me’ post for Ms. Felicia’s blog hop. If you’d like to link your post or blog to the list, just click on the banner above! This is in celebration of National Reading Month and will be happening all of March, so it’s not too late to hop in.

Read What You Write, Write What You Read

Let me tell you about an adventure I had with this #1 most common piece of writing advice…

When I switched from avid reader to reader/writer 10+ years ago, I didn’t even know ‘genre’ was a thing. Mostly, because I was absolutely clueless about marketing. In my last post, I mentioned that my first book idea was born when I was only 17, but not yet hatched. It festered in my mind for years, warping, evolving, maturing and expanding. One book idea spread into a series with its own maps and timeline, all centered around this singular world, plot, and set of characters.

This is how my brain (aka my muse) works. Simple is a foreign concept we cannot comprehend. It took me 5 years to finish my very first novel at over 150,000 words. As you can see, I was just as clueless about word count limits. It also happens to take place in the middle of my massive series, not the beginning – please refer back to my explanation of simple.

I would classify the book as Fiction-Fantasy. It’s not epic and probably breaks every fantasy genre rule ever created. I couldn’t get it off the ground to anyone. No one wanted this ‘pretending to be fantasy’ novel, not literary agents, publishers or e-pubs. In not so many words, my friend gave me the advice: Write what you read. It was probably more like: “I love Nora Roberts, you should write a book like hers!”

In a weird, roundabout and completely self-serving way, she was right. It had been years since I’d actually read a fantasy novel. During the 5 years I’d been trying to write fantasy, I’d only been reading romance, erotic romance, crime/mystery and Anne Rice (yes, she’s her own genre).

Call me an overachiever. My 2nd novel only took 2 months to write from start to finish at a little over 100k words. I had taken my friend’s advice – and that turned out to be a major problem. Remember all the genres I listed in the last paragraph? Yeah, well… they all ended up in the same book. I don’t think that’s what ‘write what you read’ is meant to accomplish.

I never sat down to write with a particular genre in mind, I just wrote what I’d been reading. It wasn’t until I was asked to label my book’s genre in the submission form to my publisher that I even considered it. And I floundered.

Um…. Can’t it just be a good book about people and stuff? Whatever happened to creative freedom?!

So, there I was with this novel that takes place in the near future with advanced technology and some space travel, told mostly from the male POV, whose female love interest is mute, explicit sex scenes and dark, gritty crimes that needed to be solved – and they want me to put a genre-specific label on it? 😐 I didn’t even know where to start!

Anyone perusing my collection of books would call me genre ignorant. A genre floozy, if you will. I am unbiased of genre – at least, I used to be a lot less biased. This was the first of many lessons in my professional writing journey. I ended up slapping a multi-genre label on it to satisfy the masses. The Zen Lounge is listed as a Futuristic Erotic Romance with Crime/Detective elements. But, that’s a freaking mouthful!

I learned my lesson, mostly. I’m a bit more conscientious about genres and ‘reading what I write’ rather than trying to write one book about everything I’ve ever read. We shall call this Reading the Write Way. Authors should be reading, at any rate. It’s a great way to expand your vocabulary, find inspiration and keep up with what’s already being done to avoid cliches.

Personally, I’d rather not to be known as a copycat or a Bandwagon writer. You won’t ever catch me referencing or comparing myself to the most popular authors or their books in my genre. I don’t want to be known as being “like [insert author name here].” Our greatest achievement should be when our work and therefore name, stands on its own merit, because it is that good and that loved by readers. However, there are ‘genre specific’ elements that readers expect to get and those are important to know. At the end of the day, we’re still running a business, and if we hope to succeed, then we need to be mindful of our demographics.

There are many authors who decide to write different genres, typically under different pen names, so readers won’t get an unpleasant surprise. This is a good approach and one that I might put to use someday by returning to my long ago attempt at Fiction-Fantasy. This time, I’ll make sure I spend a lot of time brushing up on my fantasy reading first!

I’ll likely keep reading other genres for the pure enjoyment of it, and have a variety on my TBR list. But, I’ve noticed that since I started writing Erotic Romance, that’s definitely the first genre to grab my attention while looking for new reading material. How about you?

Do you Read What You Write? Do you find yourself drawn more to your own genre, or away from it?

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10 thoughts on “#ReadWithMe ♥ Reading the Write Way

  1. ” It was probably more like: “I love Nora Roberts, you should write a book like hers!”” ROFLMAO!

    I love this! And find myself in much the same boat, except I haven’t written THAT book yet. The one that’s been churning around in my head for eons.

    I have begun making notes and sketching characters, but knowing me, it could be years before I get it down on paper.

    “I’m a bit more conscientious about genres and ‘reading what I write’ rather than trying to write one book about everything I’ve ever read.” LMAO! If that book can be written, you’re just the person to do it! 😉

    Some people find comparisons complimentary – like you, I do not. A writer spends far too much intensive ‘labor’ giving ‘birth’ to a story only to hear it’s just like someone else’s. Excuse me? That’s like saying we both had kids, but you did it first and better so my kids will have to be liked as much since they’re just like yours.

    Meh. Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 😉

    As far as reading goes, I might read a broad essay on the Romanovs one day, an Amish romance the next day, and YOUR book the day after that! Who sticks to one genre?

    Thanks for #ReadingWithMe, AC – looking forward to more! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • After writing the first pretend fantasy book, I followed it with the next in line and only got about 3/4 of the way done before losing my flow. I have so many outlines, maps, timelines, character bios, you’d think I’d be able to just sit down and write it from the beginning but oh, no. I think the biggest problem is, indeed, the genre. I’m sure if I approached it as a different genre other than fantasy, it would flow much better, I’m just stubborn LOL

      Exactly, Fle! Labor and birth. This is a good comparison and hell, I can’t even get my own kids to be the same as each other let alone someone else’s kids! LOL

      You’re welcome & thanks for hosting this hop in the first place, it’s been great fun reminiscing about my reading journey! 🙂 ♥

      Liked by 1 person

      • And just why do you think I haven’t written the “Great American Novel” yet? Because literature is not ready for an Epic-Generational-Paranormal-Romance-Saga…with Inspirational overtones! *Laughing at myself!* ‘SHADES’ of my childhood! Think Roots meets Star Trek meets Dallas meets…the Waltons! 😉 😉 The world would refuse to write or read anything until I was banned from writing and locked away. *Thinking I could use another Cheddars Painkiller right bout now…with extra Rum!*

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, noooo! We’re talking the mother of all plot twists – Kizzy shoots Miss Ellie because she was a symbiant for Kizzy’s birth mother, and John-boy takes her to Rigel 4 to escape punishment!

        I am in such dire need of psychological help! 😎

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this!!!

    And, “Um…. Can’t it just be a good book about people and stuff? Whatever happened to creative freedom?!” OMG . . . I’m 100% behind this.

    I read all the genres I enjoy, partly because I don’t think we should only read what we write or avoid reading what we write, but mostly because I’m a rebel and won’t be told what to read 😛

    Fantastic post!!! 😀
    (I’m now your new stalker. I mean follower!)

    Liked by 2 people

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