It sounds like a statement, but every once in a while, the words lose their order and it feels like a question. Annette Lyon wrote a post regarding the topic of religion and writing. I’m a Mormon. I’ve written books for the Mormon market. I am happy with these books for the most part. My Not So Fairy Tale Life and Seeking Zion (soon to be released) are books that fill me with satisfaction. I cannot pretend to regret the writing I’ve done.
But Robison Wells came to my house this weekend for Whitney award business and we discussed the LDS market and the national market and what the two markets meant to us. I found that both markets mean a great deal to me. But I wonder how other writers feel.
Some national authors look down on the LDS authors. They assume we aren’t as good as they are. Even some national hopefuls who haven’t ever landed a publishing deal assume LDS writers are sell-outs.
They are so wrong.
When talking to Orson Scott Card, he good-naturedly asked me what I wrote and, feeling sheepish and “less-than-worthy,” I said with an apologetic cough, “LDS fiction.” I didn’t meet his eye.
“Why are you apologizing for what you’ve written?” he asked me. “Didn’t you choose to write it?”
“Well . . . yeah, but . . .”
“And you’re published in the market you wrote for. There’s no shame in that. I think that’s great. It’s a solid market with credible writers.”
Why I needed him to tell me this is a quandary. Scott Card writes for the LDS market and he certainly isn’t a sell-out or a hack. He’s the creator of Ender! Janette Rallison wrote for the lds market and she is one of the best writers to happen to the YA market in a long time.
So why did I feel less than worthy? I know I am a fine writer. Sure, I had a rough start and wish I could alter my first two books, but I’ve hit my stride. I *know* my writing is strong.
Yet, authors exist who snicker at the local market as a sell-out. Does a different audience automatically equate to a lesser audience? Why does this undercurrent of classes exist among writers? Every book requires characterization, plot, setting, and voice in order to be successful, regardless of who’s reading and what bookstore stocks it. In the LDS “niche” it is not uncommon for an author to outsell authors in the national market.
I write what I know to the people I know best. I write in a market where I don’t have to compromise myself in order to cater to the masses. Like Annette said in her post, sometimes–even when I don’t mean to, I end up with an LDS book. I’ve come to find that this isn’t a bad thing.
I am LDS. I am a Writer. That is who I am.
Life, The Universe, and Everything
The first time I heard these words was in college, the day my “boyfriend” (term used loosely), doodled the number 42 on my math paper while I studied for a test I failed. The fact that I failed the math test is no surprise to anyone. But I remember the number 42. I feel fairly intelligent to be capable of remembering numbers.
LTUE was a smashing hit this year. I am going to be wretched and name drop a lot simply because I can. I was on several panels and had a booksigning at the BYU bookstore. Everything I found myself involved in was just plain fun. I met Gail Carson Levine (the author of Ella Enchanted and the Princess Tales) and Orson Scott Card (author of the famous and brilliant Ender’s series). I had them sign my books while I gawked over them. I hate it when I get all doe-eyed at people I admire, but sometimes I cannot help myself.
There is something deliriously cool about being on a panel with cool people. Here are the people I shared panels with: Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted), Jessica Day George (Dragon Slippers), Mette Ivie Harrison (Mira Mirror), Kevin Wasden(my favorite artist), Rick Walton(it would take me all night to list his children’s books), Jeff Savage (farworld), Rebecca Shelley(red dragon codex), Brandon Sanderson (The successor for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time), Eric Swedin(brilliant historian/author), Bob Defendi (RPG creator), Eric James Stone (winner of the writer’s of the Future award), Darwin Garrison, (Technosaurs) and James Dashner (13th reality). I was not given the chance to hang out nearly enough with Howard (Schlock Mercenary) and Sandra Taylor (Hold Your Horses), but I did get to see them and chat for a bit. I also got to hang out with a ton of other friends whom I love and adore and can’t get enough of. (thank you Karen for lending me a hotel room).
The YA panel (with James, Jeff, Jessica, Mette, Rebecca, and myself) was a riot, and Rebecca (who was moderating) said she had no idea we would be so hard to moderate (I think that was her way of saying that being with all of us was more like babysitting) I can never get enough of teasing James and Jeff.
On Friday afternoon, I had the privilege of going to lunch with Covenant editor, Kirk Shaw and the new freelance editor (former Covenant editor), Angela Eschler. (Did I mention how excited I am to have an editor who is excited about my work?)
My, how I am waxing parenthetical tonight.
Friday evening, a group of us went to the Bombay House (sorry James and Jeff, I seriously wasn’t ditching you, but you guys went to sushi) and guess who we should meet while there? Dave Wolverton. How funny is that? Dave is another fabulous guy and he and I had some good chatting time over his Of Mice and Magic series and my new Thirteenth Month series. We share the same publisher and I am grateful he’s so willing to share best practices with me.
My crowning moment? Orson Scott Card bought my book at the booksigning. I think I giggled over that for a full two hours. Orson Scott Card bought MY book!!!! He and his wife are charming, fabulous people. I am honored to have met them.
I have a fabulous picture of Gale, Jessica and I, but the technophobe in me is having trouble uploading it. Maybe tomorrow when I am not exhausted.
I can’t wait to see everyone again at the next shin dig for writers and I cannot wait to spend hours laughing until my stomach hurts with Jessica at the Whitney Gala.
My boys came into my room this morning, dragging me away from my work, to proudly show me their cleaned bedroom. Their dad and I had decided that the new computer won’t go in their room until it is clean.
Clean apparently has varying levels of definition. What clean means to me is the polar opposite of what clean means to them. I informed them that they’d have to do better than that.
Whine whine whine whine
“I mean it! Clean! By MY standards!” I say this in whispered shout because the husband is still sleeping and I like to be nice and let him sleep as late as he can before he has to get up for work.
My middle child (my clown–the same one who entered my room wearing a t shirt, boxers, tennis shoes and black socks, asking if what he was wearing would be okay to wear to school) squints his eyes at me and says, “Define your standards.”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed. He was still standing there in boxers and tennis shoes for heaven’s sake. What else could I do in a situation like that? In my moment of weakness the boys thought they’d convinced me that their definition of clean will stick. Sad news for them when they get home from school.
I went and looked again. Yeah . . . there is no way that room is clean by anyone’s standards or any definition of the word. I should be grateful the board of health hasn’t come crashing through my windows with flame throwers.
Sadly, this little power struggle will cost me several hours of stuff-I-gotta-get-done time. I should take an ibuprofen now. It’ll save me time later. I hate that they’re funny and infuriating at the same time.