Saturday, January 12, 2013

Anything Goes!

A friend called tonight to let me know how much she liked the advance copies of some 'tales' I plan to put up when I get my independent publishing venture in gear. She also mentioned how much she'd enjoyed Dancing with Velvet, the WW II romance set in my West Texas hometown. Ditto the response from others she'd loaned it to. All music to my ears, of course, but I had to confide my frustration in finding readers who want what I write--which is, to put it bluntly, clean..which is almost a dirty word these days!

It's sort of like the song, "Anything Goes"--a golden oldie but oh so true today!

Obviously, the definition of clean varies widely, but over the holidays I purged my Kindle of at least half a dozen books which looked good and actually started out that way. It was 10-20 pages into the stories that I gave up after several graphic 'sex scenes' turned me off. Now, I'm not opposed to 'sex' per se, but without love and committment, it falls far short of what I'm interested in reading.

I don't want it on the kitchen table, against the wall, on the desk in the study, half-way to the bed, in places so unbelievable that one has to wonder about the logistics, and ad nauseam. The F-word has long since lost its shock value and is simply annoying and downright boring. Ditto other choice slang expressions which, at one time, weren't found anywhere except written on lavatory walls.

Someone once criticized one of my books because it contained no 'sex scenes'. Actually, it had plenty of them--subtly played out against a backdrop of growing interest and attraction between two people struggling with their needs and desires. I still find the old B&W movies, in which the music swells as the bedroom door swings shut, far more titillating than being right there with a ringside seat for all the 'action'.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, one of my books has one scene I think is the closest thing to 'graphic' that I've ever written in my life. When I told my editor I thought it should be removed, she came back with, "Absolutely not." In retrospect, I wish I'd taken it out or, at least, rewritten it, simply because I think I could have conveyed the same idea in a subtler way. However, it's done. It wasn't offensive, but I wouldn't write it that way again. Live and learn.

I've tried skimming through the graphics which actually interrupt the plot/action of a book, but eventually that gets old. So what do I want to read? A good solid story with realistic characters--vices and virtues alike--a plot that flows along the lines of real life, which isn't always happily ever after in the strictest sense. Sometimes characters (like real people) have to make lemonade out of lemons.

So what to do? Keep on keeping on, I suppose. I can't write 'hot' and wouldn't if I could. I'm not naive or prudish, but I have to be true to my own vision of life. Surely I'm not alone, and 'somewhere...out there...' is a reading audience who just wants a plain old good story minus the scorching embellishments.

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