OVERDONE?

I’ve been neglecting my blog, for which I apologize to you. What has kept me away from finishing the half dozen blogettes I have waiting on my laptop is the pressure to produce the next book in the Bite Back series. This is not your fault, for reasons which I’ll come to. Suffice to say, at the moment, I would be head down in book writing this morning were it not for a conversation I had yesterday. 

To set the scene, let me re-state that I seldom get upset by reviews. This is, in part, because ‘I have all the sensitivity of a rhinoceros’. However, that throwaway line doesn’t really capture the essence of what happens when I read reviews of my books, and I read every review I come across. The process I go through is split between emotional and rational. It’s very left brain – right brain. If the review is positive, I use it to polish my ego, which lives in my right brain, and then mentally add weight in the writing engine to the things mentioned. If the review is negative, I throw it at a set of analytical cogs in the left brain. These are:

What is the reviewer *really* saying?
Is it justified?
Do I want to change anything?

By the time the review is spat out of those cogs, there’s little emotional charge left. Anything I think I should change gets added in to the weights in the reading room.

The final decision on change, incidentally, for both positive and negative reasons, I leave to the future me when I’m actually at the point of plotting or writing about whatever it is that was mentioned in the review.

All of which is fine, and I recommend the system to any writer. And all of which is bypassed when I get feedback verbally. There are different parts of the brain engaged when the ‘review’ is in a conversation as opposed to a written text.

It’s not as if I haven’t received this feedback before, but it completely missed the analytical engine and went straight into the right brain and pissed me off.

The offending comment was ‘vampires are such an overdone theme’.

I have a deep well of witty rejoinders and cutting phrases, but along with 99.9% of the population, this well is capped off while I’m actually up on my hind legs and trying to speak. And the person making the comment is a friend and a writer. All I managed was my standard defense – ‘I’m enjoying writing it as much as many people seem to be enjoying reading it.’ Whatever.

With the conversation over, I retrieved the comment and sent it to the analytical cogs.

She said the area is overdone. That means there are a lot of books about vampires. Yeah? How many books are there about crime? Am I being unfair? Okay, how many books about murder? Still unfair?

Okay, how many books about serial killers? Yes, but people are now saying that serial killers are overdone, too. Fine, how many books are there where boy meets girl, they begin by hating each other and then fall in love? How many books are there about aliens? How many books are there about medieval kingdoms? With magic or dragons? Or both?

The vampire arena is *not* full. There is no reason to say that there are too many books about vampires any more than there are too many books about serial killers, romance, aliens or epic fantasy.

What she was really saying was that a lot of the books about vampires aren’t worth reading.

Whether she is justified or not will have to be another blog, because I promised myself I would spend no more than an hour on this. But to short circuit my analytical cogs and come to the last question – the answer is no, I’m not going to stop writing about Athanate just because there are a lot of books about vampires.

 

Postscript 1.

It is not your fault I’m feeling under pressure. The writing pressures at the moment come about because I’ve decided to spend more time writing the prequel than on Wild Card – about a ratio of 2:1. I know, if you’re reading this blog, you’re likely to want that ratio reversed at the least. But sitting here as an Indie author, I have to think about marketing and timing, and I believe a freebie prequel will mean a whole lot more people get to enjoy Wild Card a month or two later than anticipated.

 

Postscript 2.

Having thought through all my cutting rejoinders, I emailed my friend and told her I rejected her comment and listed the reasons why. I got a <LOL> back, and her own rejoinder, that if we were now going to have this conversation by email, she would apply her own analytical cogs to prove her case. I await her email.

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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first book, 'Sleight of Hand' is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/Sa0D3n

11 responses to “OVERDONE?”

  1. Alan Ballantyne says :

    I agree your stories are unique and NOT OVERDONE at all. You’re correct in saying that there are loads of all other genres being written but people don’t often comment about them being in excess. Like all other books there are good and bad ones, we’re lucky that yours fall into the great category.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thank you, Alan. Probably any genre that sees a bestseller followed by a host of copies gets the ‘overdone’ comment. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working to keep getting positive comments like yours.

  2. sally moss says :

    Personally I think your colleague is missing the point since most fiction is about the human condition and vampires or other alien life forms are primarily a way of analysing that by contrasting different life views combined with an adventure which points up those differences

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thank you Sally. Yes, the limitations of fiction include that it must provide a story that we, as humans, can relate to, irrespective of what exotic situations and dilemmas the author comes up with.
      I *guess* she will try something along the lines that the overuse of the specific type of situation detracts from the suspension of disbelief necessary and therefore damages the story. Well, I’ll wait and see. 🙂

  3. Suzie says :

    I’ll admit that I get tired of seeing reviews where people say vampires are overdone. It seems to me that if you’re tired of seeing them then you should just read something else. Why should authors stop writing in a genre that clearly has a huge audience (who certainly loves to see more written) just because a few don’t want to read it anymore? Something is only overdone when it doesn’t sell anymore and vampires have not come close to hitting that point yet. That’s the way I look at it. Plus I agree on all your points.

    Personally, I think literary fiction has been done to death and for far longer than vampires, but I’m pretty sure no one gives a crap what I think. That’s okay, though, because I just don’t buy books in that genre and I’m happy 🙂

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Well said, Suzie.
      My friend (not published yet) writes serious ‘women’s fiction’ by the way.

      • Gail says :

        Sounds a bit heavy to me!

      • Suzie says :

        I’ve heard (though I don’t know for a fact myself) that the market for women’s fiction is slowing down. It was never my thing to read it because it just feels like literary fiction geared toward women. Still can’t hold my interest, but I can’t imagine why she would bash another genre just because it isn’t her favorite. Maybe the popularity of it stumps her?

  4. Clinton Lewis says :

    For me this reaches 2 points
    1: You are selling books I don’t know your financial situation and really don’t want to but the short and long of it is. You are making money.
    2: People enjoy what you are doing. Whatever that may be whether it is playing music, doing back rubs, starring in your own tv show or whatever people namely me enjoy what you are doing and it brings joy to our lives.

    At the end it does not matter if vampires are overdone or not as the 2 points above trump that weird statement.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thank you Clinton. As long as enough people enjoy the writing, I’ve no intention of stopping. The feedback I get through messages and reviews, yours included, convince me that’s the case.

      As Alex might say “do you have a numbered list for everything?” 🙂

      • Clinton Lewis says :

        LOL just got back to your blog sorry for the lateness. I find the number in my review keeps me from putting to many bad points in it. I know it makes me a bad person but I try to put the equal amounts of good points and bad points. I find it is easy to see things wrong with a book and hard to remember the great moments. Not so in yours I will say as the great moments were just amazing “I have read them several times already especially those passages”.

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