Guest Blogger: Deirdre Savoy

Okay, I'm putting the emphasis on relaxation, which has been too scarce in my life lately. I'm reading a fun book and am going to take a long soak in the Jacuzzi with my book and plenty of bubbles . . . and I'm not getting out until I've read the last page. This is the second book I've read in a week and only the third I've read all year. Of course, I should be writing, but do I feel guilty? Hell, no!

Here's Deirdre Savoy with what will likely be the last of the guest blogs I've been running. I want to thank everyone who helped me out during this busy time, and also those who had good intentions that didn't quite pan out. Writers are seriously busy folks!

Be sure to pick up a copy of Dee's latest release, an anthology called Soldier Boys that is in stores now. (I don't know about you, but every time I hear that title I start humming the old Shirelles tune that was a favorite of my sister . . . who was about 12 at the time. Anybody else remember it?)

Take it away, Dee!

Writer Know Thyself

by Deirdre Savoy


I am teaching a writing course in which one of the participants admitted that she had given up trying to weed a certain element from her work. My response: yay! Fighting with your writing is a sure way to make yourself miserable. Each writer has to determine not only what they want to write, but also where their natural talent will take them. There is a famous quote from Jean Cocteau that goes: "Listen carefully to the first criticism of your work. Note just what it is about your work the critics don't like–then cultivate it. That's the part of your work that's individual and worth keeping."

This is one of my favorite quotes because it speaks to the writer's need to hone their own talent, believe in it and be able to withstand the influences of what editors want, agents think, what's hot now or the latest trend. That's not to say that editors/agents/trends/what's hot or whatever shouldn't inform your work, but you've got to have the confidence in what you write to hold fast when others try to sway you away from where you want to go or what you feel is the strength of your writing. Otherwise it is too easy to find yourself blowing in the wind of whatever fad is flying at the moment.

I remember when street fiction first came into vogue and there were many folks who asked me why didn't I try writing that. I couldn't write a street lit novel if someone held a gun to my head and said produce or die. I don't know anything about the life from the viewpoint of a participant nor do I have any desire to explore it. It's not where either my interest or talent lies.

The same is true of erotic stories. Not my forte, even if I can whip up a good love scene on a moment's notice. At least not in book length form. What I do like to write are suspenseful, character-driven love stories. Some people say I'm good at it.

So what do you feel is special in your writing that you try to cultivate? Do you avoid trends or follow them? If could change your writing in one way, what would that be?

Thanks again, Bettye, for the opportunity. Hope you are enjoying summer.

All the best!

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Thanks for an excellent column, Dee. I don't know what's special about my writing, but I do believe it's reasonably good and that I'm continually learning ways to make it better (that would be what I'd change . . . make it better!) As for what I won't write, there's a long list that includes: No YA (which is booming right now, but it's just not for me). No erotica. No street lit. Nothing that I feel is silly. No fantasy. No publishers other than the major houses. What I will write: What I want to. Period. If that means I have no publisher, so be it. It won't be the end of my world. I'll still write . . . that's not just what I am, it's what I do. And I'll leave all my manuscripts to the kids. You never know what will come back in vogue in 2050.

What about the rest of y'all?

17 comments:

DonnaD said...

I appreciate both Dee's blog and your comments, Bettye. Sometimes I get discouraged when I see what's being picked up for deals, especially when the writing/editing is sub-par. I often think I should change what I write, but it would be a betrayal of the gift I've been given from God. As Scripture says, my gift will make room for itself.

In the meantime, I'm just gonna keep doin' what I do. And Bettye, you are a wonderful writer and inspiration. Keep on doing what you do because YOUR gift will be out there in whatever shape or form. I have no doubt about that.

Patricia W. said...

I'm doing what I'm doing. Writing sweet romance. Some explicitly Christian or inspirational; some not. But all with faith-elements and with people who look and talk like me and my folks.

Lynn Emery said...

Great post, Dee. Like you I haven't tried to write "hot" genres or trends. I gotta be me.

bettye griffin said...

Well, thank you, Donna!

Like Dee, I always think it's best for writers to write what's in their heart. It's okay, too, to stretch if there's a genre out there they truly believe they'd enjoy exploring. But this "I should be doing this, I should be doing that" attitude probably won't pay off.

I was telling someone at the Slam Jam that a publisher liked my romance proposal, but they wanted me to make a change to make it fit a rule I hadn't previously known about. I said no, not because I resented being asked to change my manuscript, but because the requested change would diminish the effect of the entire story. The person I was talking to said if it was them, they would have made the change. I realized then that I'm just not the malleable type. Let somebody else jump through the hoops.

Stick to your guns, Patricia! I've seen your writing, and I do believe you will be published before too long.

I'll quote Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. for both of you: Keep the faith, baby!

Paz Edwards said...

Deirdre: I'm glad you write what you like to write. I like to read it!

Paz

Chicki said...

Great post, Dee!

I'm with you ladies on the street lit and erotica!

Writing about the complexities of relationships, whether male/female, family, boss/employee is what I love to do. Some of my stories have been inspirational, others not. The people that come into my head have a story, and I just tell it without trying to cater to what happens to be "in" at the moment. One of these days an editor or agent is going to read one of them and fall in love. In the meantime I'll learn all I can about how to make my writing stronger.

Dee Savoy said...

Hey Donna,

Glad you enjoyed the post. You know, you can't worry about what other writer are doing. That's a sure fire way to make yourself ill. You have no control over what editors/publishers/readers will purchase, unfortunately. You can only do what you do to the best of your abilities. Then as you say, your own talent will make a way.

All the best,
dee

Dee Savoy said...

Hey Patricia,

I agree with Bettye that you are on your way. Hang in there, girl.

All the best,
dee

Dee Savoy said...

Hee hee Lynn,

Glad you liked the post and I think you know why.

All the best,
dee

Dee Savoy said...

Okay, Bettye,

What "rule" was this? I hate how micromanaged romance can get sometimes. I think most readers just want a good story and anything that is superfluous or too structured just gets in the way.

All the best,
dee

Dee Savoy said...

Paz,

You are such a sweetie!

All the best,
dee

Dee Savoy said...

Chicki,

I think you've hit the nail on the head there. Publishing is so freaking subjective. One person's pleasure is another one's poison. The best you can do is work on your own craft and your confidence in your writing and trust that it will eventually pay off.

All the best,
dee

LaConnie said...

Hi Dee:

Great post!!

You are so right, writers need to write what feels natural and comfortable to them. I've finally found my voice and stick with the stories I have a passion for writing.

As my oldest son would say, "Everybody needs to stay in their lane."

And a big hello to my good friend, Bettye, too.

Best,
LaConnie

shelia said...

I think if you have your own style, you should try to excel at that instead of conforming to the market.

What's hot today might not be hot tomorrow so I write what I like to read--"in season and out of season."

bettye griffin said...

Dee, I sent you a private e-mail with the details, which I don't want to state publicly because I still have hopes of getting that particular story published, unless everybody else chickens out.

Thanks to all of you for sharing your feelings on this important issue, and smooches to LaConnie.

Remember Dee's words: Don't fight it . . . write it!

Dee Savoy said...

Hey LaConnie,

Great to "meet" you here. I agree with you son. Now if only he could do something about New York city traffic. LOL

All the best,
dee

Dee Savoy said...

What's hot today might not be hot tomorrow so I write what I like to read--"in season and out of season.

So true, Shelia! Tony Morrison said she wroter her first book because she wanted to read it. Not a bad reason if you ask me.

all the best,
dee