Thursday, 4 July 2013

Writer's Box

I am getting increasingly ticked off by people telling me, as an author, what I can and can't do. Don't speak, don't have an opinion, and the latest one, write what we tell you to write. Climb into that box and behave.

I woke up this morning to my Twitter feed exploding with vaginas.



Not literally, you understand, but a number of very annoyed MM authors making their point. The source of their anger was another provocative post by Wave of Reviews by Jessewave. On the face of it, Wave is making the point that she runs an exclusive MM site and is getting annoyed at the number of books that are not labelled as having MF sex in them.

One day I am going to agree with a blog from Wave. Today is not that day. 

Up front, it's her site, she can review what she likes. Her site, her rules. However, she goes on further.

"Why are M/M readers treated so disdainfully? Are we not on par with het romance readers? M/M romance has been around for a decade, so why can’t our authors get it right? Clearly we are not respected because if we were this wouldn’t happen, and so often. Would authors insert graphic gay sex scenes in het romances? Not f*****g likely, unless the book is a ménage or a bi romance, and do you know why?"

Readers, I can't speak for anyone else, but the last thing I think about when I'm writing a story is treating you 'disdainfully', however I don't think about your feelings either. If I think of a book that has a potential trigger in it, I'll still write it, be it domestic abuse, adultery, child abuse or parental neglect. I know that this genre generally includes warnings at the start of stories, unlike other genres, even if it gives away some of the plot.

I have been infuriated by the need of some publishers to include MM sex as a warning, and now we are expected to do the same for MF? What the flaming eff? Is het sex suddenly a trigger issue? Are readers such delicate flowers they can't skip over the page and get on with the story?

I respect my readers to choose what they want to read, and in return I expect not be shoved in a box because it suits a label. I haven't written an explicit MF sex scene in an MM story. Not yet. But one day I might, and I'm not going to be told I can't or that it's disrespectful to readers. At the end of the day I choose to make two men my pairing, but they don't live in a vacuum. Women exist, het relationships exist and if they appear in my books it's my choice to write them. Just as it's the readers' choice whether to read my books.

EDIT: The post has been deleted.


18 comments:

  1. *claps hands* Well said, Sue!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well said Sue.

    As a total m/m reader I can honestly say the books where there has been both mm and mf sex scenes in one book are very few and far between. Yes, I've seen many a series that mix it up but it's fairly rare within one book.

    I agree that there shouldn't be warnings on any of the books single sex or het sex. However that said i do agree there should be a footnote just stating this story contains graphic sexual encounters or something similar. Just so we don't shock any defenseless little old Barbara Cartland fans by accident. 3:)

    You keep writing what you want to Sue (the same to the other authors too) and we the readers will keep reading! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If older ladies by their millions could deal with Fifty Shades of Grey... but no, gay sex is different.

      Delete
  3. Well said, Sue.
    As an author who HAS included a m/f sex scene in her m/m book, I appreciate your words.

    I can only applaud my publisher for taking a VERY enlightened stance on the issue, a NON-bigoted stance by refusing to discriminate against having intimacy between a woman and a man in an m/m book. What a refreshing thing to see such open-mindedness!

    I do not think m/f sex should just be thrown into an m/m story 'just because'. But if it has a place, it has a place. Period.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had this discussion with a publisher last night. If it fits, keep it.

      Delete
  4. Oh well said, well bloody said!

    I agree totally - at no point when I'm writing a book do I think to myself, "What'll piss my loyal readers off the most?" Wave pointed out that m/m has been out for a decade. So what were women reading before then? Even Jackie Collins has, God forbid, vaj-j-jays in it.

    Surely the reader who has the most right to complain about a vaj-j-jay being mentioned be the reader who doesn't have one? If it doesn't seem to bother the gay male readers, why are those vaj-j-jay laden of us complaining? Maybe it does annoy the male reader, maybe he uses the same discretion he does as when he's watching TV, or employs that little part of his brain called "common sense" and turns the bloody page over!

    In Thirst I wrote a three paragraph het sex scene where the vampire then proceeded to kill the girl and dispose of her. There was an uproar and I'm sorry, but the answer remains the same. It was my story and it was pivotal to the plot - it was not a slight upon anyone's tender feelings.

    I may be being sycophantic, but isn't that the whole point of being a writer? To put down YOUR stories on the page and give life to the voices in YOUR head, not someone else's?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get the feeling that people are trying to make the genre very formulaic.

      Delete
  5. I'm a very gay man and I'd like to say having a heterosexual encounter in a story doesn't freak me out, assuming it is well written and integral to the plot, but then I have the same standard for gay sex too. Actually I'd rather not read about anyone bumping uglies, romances is cool, a bit of foreplay, then fade to black and get on with the damn story. I stumbled into the m/m genera because I like reading stories about gay men, but I gotta say, there is just weirdness about this genera sometimes. Not sure where it comes from. Might be because it is new or maybe its roots in fanfic. I don't know. But I read her post about writers offending readers and that was WTF. What is up with our culture where we are so easily offended and think we should be protected from even the slightest offense? Sometimes we need to be offended. That's how we have our preconceived notions challenged. And what is up with all the labels and warnings in the genera? I have never seen that anywhere else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you said, Stephen, some of the weirdness is probably from its roots in fanfic. But it is now standard to label, and much as I hate it, we have to abide by the rules. That isn't going to stop me including what I want, in my stories.

      Delete
    2. Who makes up these rules? I'm a real newbie and only have a few short stories out so I'm honestly trying to figure this out. Is there a list somewhere of what to label for? Where do you put the label? If you are writing more gay fiction than m/m do you still need to worry about this?

      Delete
    3. Ok, take a deep breath. If you are published through a publisher, they do the labelling. If you are published yourself it might be prudent to add a warning in the blurb if you need to, such as rape or abuse. However, there is no set industry standard. I would look at where you are publishing your books and what they do. Don't panic, this is a learning curve for all of us. Also booksellers like ARe and Amazon have tags so you can put the information there.

      Delete
    4. Thanks. And sorry, no panic, just a bit of frustration coming to the surface. ;) Again, thanks for your time.

      Delete
    5. No worries. I'm as bemused as everyone else.

      Delete
  6. Well said, Sue.
    As one of the blacklisted authors (and have been for years) I refuse to grant her vitriol the extra publicity, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the support from posts like yours.

    ReplyDelete