No matter how I say this someone is going to get pissed off and wrongly assume something which was not meant or even inferred in my words and thoughts. I don’t mince words, anyone who knows even one thing about me, is aware of that, but neither am I reckless in what I say.
I find no point in being what some perceive as confrontational. Sorry, but I just come from a culture which speaks its mind and considers that an honest and good way to be, as it keeps misunderstandings to a minimum, IF (a very crucial ‘if’) the other person or group has an open-mind and is not quick to jump to conclusion. We consider it somewhat dishonest and false to always make the show of being diplomatic or not speaking your mind even if it is opposite to what the other person has said. I suppose if I do want to make a point about anything, it is “don’t assume.
Don’t assume the other person shares your own thoughts, feelings, society, culture, way of life, course of action…or any other such thing. Don’t assume they are trying to put you down, criticize you…you get the idea, don’t you?
That being said. TOPIC: Women writers of gay or m/m fiction.
Last night on one of my publishers writers forums, someone expressed their feeling of surprise there were so many straight women writing m/m fiction. Hmph, first, that term m/m suggests to me “we’ve” been reduced to merely sexual terms, objects, a quick reference and voyeuristic glance at a porno you don’t quite want to see head on. It vaguely bothers me, honestly. I’m going to use in this entry though, for the most part, because it more accurately suggests my continued feelings on this subject.
Why so many straight women writing gay fiction or erotica?
1st answer? Because they can. Whether they do it accurately or well, to some male readers views, it’s grown more socially acceptable and its the “hot” thing to do these days. It’s a secret thrill, a hobby, a sexy game being played to get kicks.
Sound a little asinine? It isn’t. Step back. Think about it. Even if you might use different words or descriptions, isn’t that basically what it is for hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of straight women dabbing in the m/m genre? Be honest. I didn’t say it was a bad thing. It’s just a thing.
2nd answer? Because publishers have monitored, researched, gathered information, properly analyzed it and saw the trend forming and demand rising for m/m fiction. Naturally, they responded. They need their slice of the cake too, since it’s all big and fancifully decorated and sitting right there in the middle of the table. They would be stupid not to, or devoted to another genre.
Correlation? Vampires. Vampires are now über cool. Undead/zombies, werebeasts, all kinds of ugly bumps in the dark made into handsome and lusty creatures.
As I told someone else, I might be newer on the scene as a published writer in a wider market, but I am not new to book selling, editing or publishing. I’ve just mostly worked behind the scenes. Working with writers on edits, etc. and having the opportunity to talk to them. Even a few of the easily recognized names in America, and once I questioned why suddenly, though they’d made their breakthrough in another genre, suddenly they were writing vampire crap. The writer sighed, and admitted it was not what they wanted to do but in order to keep their “job”, they were now required to write them because that’s what the publisher said most of the readers were asking for.
Get the connection? It’s popular now, so “everyone” is getting their slice.
“I was country, when country wasn’t cool”…Remember that song from the 70s or early 80s? I can’t quite remember, and that’s the only line I do, I was a little kid at the time, but that phrase people who didn’t even listen to country music got.
I read the female writers saying how they began in fanfiction or reading yaoi. It gave them ideas. That’s cool. After all yaoi is written primarily by women for women. That’s the crux of the matter, a key, key crux. The majority of m/m fiction flooding the market is by women also, or it’s getting there. I don’t have any statistics.
I have my copies of some of Mel Keegan’s books from years ago on my shelf. I’ve read yaoi for years, and just some of the m/m fiction these days, though I discarded and shook my head over most of it also. In yaoi, some female writers and artists were superlative in their stories and characters. Most, in my opinion, were not. They simply overlaid male characters onto a hetero story template and it came off looking stupid, one-dimensional and in some cases objectionable to me, because it was so false. Sure it’s fiction, but at least make it good, believable, engaging or something!
The same problem I had with it, I have with the majority of m/m fiction: it’s just seems a game to them, and it’s being played badly. It’s being played commonly. I suppose the word most apt to me when I think about it is hollow. So many of these stories seem hollow. Sure you want to explore your ideas and write about gay or bisexual men and their loves and relationships and it’s flooding the markets. Overrunning I think, in some instances, drowning out the more unique voices. Kinda like someone writing about what they don’t know, just what they imagine, what they’ll never know, but they make up the parts they don’t.
Hating on? Nah, not at all.
Correlation? Historical fiction. Colleen McCollough does not and did not live in ancient Rome, but she wrote some hella good novels. She did her research, she developed the right feel for it, and she created outstanding pieces of literature. Same thing with Jean Auel and her “ancient” humans series. She might be older but she ain’t that old!
In the same way, some straight women or other females can do their research, get the feel for it, and create outstanding gay fiction (NOTE: I used the different term!). It can be done. It has been done. It will keep being done, and I salute their efforts.
Some women and other females can half do their research, not have the correct “feel” for it and create some of the most stupid and infuriatingly bad representations of “gay” fiction which I term m/m.
Yes, the same can happen in other genres also, from romance to sci-fi. An example, Kevin J. Anderson’s attempt to create visionary future worlds in the manner of Frank Herbert. Über fail. Legend in his own mind.
It’s the same with gay fiction, however, many of the reviewers, publishers, etc. cater to women and their tastes, and even many of the men. Therefore this directly affects what is “on top”, as it were. In sci-fi if someone writes a “bad” book, reviewers are going to tell them. Readers are going to tell them, and usually in no uncertain terms. It seems a lot of patting on the back in m/m, they read each others books, they write reviews heaped with praise, they are in the same circles and play back and forth with each other, so there you go. I keep hoping for objectivity. Hoping to see some evidence of it.
Maybe I’ve done too much editing, too much reading in a professional capacity. I give an honest review from my perspective of course, but I was taught in the manner of “anything you say even if it is a negative point, can be said in a positive way”. I very much limit my reviewing. I probably need to limit my honesty also if I want to keep any friends in the (yes I’m smiling in a wicked way) “m/m” or gay fiction world. I should likely delete this article too because I am certain I’ll see my follower and friends list totals drop. But I can only be myself in this.
Sour grapes? Nah, not at all. I literally have several dozen stories I’ve completed. I could have submitted them years ago, could submit them now. It is not a priority for me, not a driving need. I love my characters and sitations, my stories, but most of them are based on experiences in my life, the more painful ones, so it’s like putting myself out there. I’m not on anyone else’s timetable. My standards are my own. The novels I am working on may one day be completed, maybe they won’t. They may get out there, and no one or few people like them. That’s really irrelevant to me. I like them, and that’s what matters most. They are my characters, my worlds. That I don’t have lots of work out there, that I don’t do a “chatty cathy” in groups, that I don’t wholesale add or follow everyone I come across…are all indicative of my personality, which is distinctly loner when I am in the USA. Ask my mother, I’ve never been compliant at any time in my life, or easily understood, or for that matter, liked. I’m used to it. Doesn’t keep me quiet.