Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pitches, Pens, and Preferences

Posted by Lynne Griffin

Musing on the posts this week on capturing your story in a pitch, being true to yourself as an artist, and preferred work habits, I saw a theme, a common thread. Everything comes down to a matter of taste.

You can write the snazziest pitch ever, but if one of the main characters is a ghost, a cowboy, or a dog, I probably won't be stepping up to the register to plunk down my debit card for a hardcover. Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with ghosts, cowboys or dogs, I'm just not that into them, so I rarely choose to read stories about them.

I enjoyed reading Amy's post about Alicia Keys's philanthropic work, and I admire her integrity as an artist. But I don't particularly care for the kind of music she sings. This is more my style.

Quality pens and fine paper are marvelous for writing charming notes, leaving messages for family, or thanking supportive friends, and I love a beautiful journal, but I prefer to write fiction on a computer. (I agree whole-heartedly with Hannah about the frustrations of working with technology.)

Before you write to convince me I should love cowboys, R & B, and writing long hand, consider your own preferences. I'm not terribly stubborn about mine, but I accept them. It doesn't mean I can't be swayed to read something I ordinarily wouldn't, when it's suggested to me by a reader I respect.**

It's merely an issue of preference. In my opinion, if all writers and readers were identical, there would be no art. There wouldn't be any reason to discuss literature; we wouldn't bother to read to think or learn new ways of seeing the world. Here's the thing--I know some people will love my novel and some won't. I can long for stellar reviews and a wildfire of word-of-mouth, but at the end of the day, I know some won't connect with my artistry. I hope reviewers will get what I tried to accomplish, and of course, I want them to recommend it. I'd love to hear readers tell other readers LIFE WITHOUT SUMMER is a must read. Yet just as I have preferences, I need to respect the preferences of readers, knowing my novel isn't for everyone.

Here's another of my preferences: I chose to be positive. I'm not expending a lot of energy on those who won't care for my kind of story. Instead I'm doing my best to connect with readers looking for upmarket fiction about family, forgiveness and the struggle to find hope in healing. My marketing and publicity efforts are targeted and crafted to find my readers. People who want what I have to offer. I know they're out there. It's my job to find them.

**Novels I love about ghosts:
Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan
Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey

**Novels I love about cowboys:
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid by William Goldman

**Novels I love about dogs:
Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lynne, I love the line "I choose to be positive." Yes, it's so much more pleasant than dwelling on the bad--the rejections, the dismissals, the whatever. Revel in the good--the readers who are touched by your book, the readers who found it and discovered it was exactly what they needed at that moment.

Not everything is for everybody. Thank goodness.

Therese Fowler said...

"Variety is the spice of life."

Wherever that saying originates, it's never truer than when applied to literature.

And I agree with your philosophy wholeheartedly.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Thanks, Judy and Therese! Where would we be without variety, the ability to pick and choose? The very thing we want as readers, can be an arrow to a writer. Thanks for weighing in.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Everything comes down to a matter of taste. Everyone likes different things and writers target different audiences, and that is exactly the reason: Everything comes down to taste.

Great post!