Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's a crap shoot. (Heavy on the crap.)

Many PODers (seriously, like, over 200) have asked why I don't review fantasy or science fiction (and I'll say it again--I don't read those genres [in commercially published format] so I cannot be a good judge of what is good; it's not a statement about the genre itself). But more so, folks are asking why I don't review a specific title that's right up my alley (wherever that may be).

The answer is this: Who knows.

All it takes is one sentence to kill a pitch for me, which puts me already in the "dread" cycle. (As an example, I never read THE HISTORY OF LOVE by Nicole Krauss (even though it was recommended by a friend) because I read "spans a period of 60 years" in a review of it.) On the flip side, all it takes is one sentence to do the opposite, too.

Sound unfair? Probably. What do you think I am, Kirkus? I'm just an average person trying to get through the muckiest of sludge and I have preferences just like anyone else.

The typical next question is, "Well, what can I write to grab [a reader's] attention?"

The answer is this: Who knows.

But my very best advice is to write whatever you like most. Don't write chick lit because you think it will sell (especially since the market is in a downturn) or thrillers because you are a man. If it feels good, write it.

If you look back over the culture of entertainment, there have been some successes that no one would have predicted. Who would've guessed a show about nothing would go down as one of the greatest television programs ever, or that a song about a pedophile with a sinus infection would launch a band to stardom, or that a book where 85% of the protagonist's speech is in the form of a stutter would win a national award? And there are countless cases where a perfect concept is introduced but falls completely flat. So, just write what you like writing. The best will rise to the top. Does that mean it will get published?

Don't be silly. Of course not.