Selling Out?

Should authors write for the market? Is catering to what readers want selling out, or a smart business decision? Opposing camps are more deeply entrenched than Republicans and Democrats.

The conflict stems largely (but not entirely) from differences in opinion about whether writing is a business or a craft. Initially, I sided with the craft faction. I’m an artist, dammit! Never mind what is or isn’t popular — I’ll write what I want to write and let the chips fall where they will.

Writing historical gay fiction floats my boat. My writing demon is appeased, and showing how life has changed over time for the GLBT community taps into the educator in me. Lack of interest in this type of story, however, starves my inner attention whore. If writing something else would be selling out, what do I do?

Mom would prefer I didn’t write about “all that gay stuff,” but she reads my novels and is tremendously proud of me. Lacking any kind of filter whatsoever, she’s both my harshest critic and most devoted fan. When I explained my predicament, she suggested doing more with my sense of humor. Good idea.

My dear friend Charlie Cochet crashed my little pity party. In response to a long, whiney message about my inability to write, she threw me a lifeline. What about a contemporary story around generational differences between younger and older gay men?

Brilliant! I took to the premise like a fish to water. Ideas for scenes between differently aged men fell like rain.  After thinking about the characters for a day or two, Whippersnapper was born.

Have I sold out? Not at all. Though not historical fiction, Whippersnapper is more “me” than any of my previous books. Friends who’ve read early drafts agree. Next week, I’ll explain how.