When it comes to being an author, I fall into two much stigmatised categories, that of being a self published author and, heaven forbid, an author of erotica. Five years on and five books published, I’ve learned to ignore those knowing smiles the moment you say ‘self published’ or ‘erotic’ knowing they’ve judged me as a writer and my work without ever having read it.
My heart often went out to E. L. James who was subjected to thousands of nasty comments about her Fifty Shades trilogy and her writing, which I myself rather enjoyed. I was a little aggrieved that much of the criticism came from other authors, having believed we’re in this together and should be supporting one another, our fellow writer, our creative peer. I’m sure as she watched her bank account grow, and sold over 120 million books worldwide, she didn’t take too many of these critiques to heart.
Thankfully, I also have a wonderful following of readers who don’t seem to mind if I publish my own books or write some steamy, explicit sex scenes into my suspenseful plots, full of twists and turns, and filled with multi-layered characters. In fact, other than having a rather narcissistic love of my own work, the only other opinions that matter to me, are those of the many readers who have told me how much my stories mean to them. I cherish their support and encouragement, as well as their very kind words. To everyone else, I have a poem I’ve written that fairly sums up my own thoughts. It’s called:
When Jesters wear the crowns
Dismount your literary high horse and rest your overused behind.
It’s time for sober intercourse and not the enjoyable kind.
You scoffed at a fellow writer who wrote a story of romance.
A bit different from its rivals, but the Tango is still a dance.
And Fifty Shades of Grey, no matter how much plot it lacks,
“Terrible writing,” you might say, but let’s look at actual facts.
While your book may be esteemed among your peers of classic tomes,
Is it wilting in a library instead of worldwide readers’ homes?
Will your name be merely a footnote in some critique of writing history?
“Didn’t they write such and such?” But your work remains a mystery.
At Heaven’s table of great writers such as Dickens, Poe and Shelley,
E L James might be down the end but at least she fills her belly.
Especially with the sales she’s made, while your book still gathers dust.
O Author, your dictum should always be “In the reader we hope and trust.”
All that praise from the elites and their educated views,
Mean little to the readers and the stories which they choose.
If you’re writing to please the critics with your metaphors so grand,
And your eloquently written phrases and words no one understands,
You’ve forgotten what a story is, that first children’s book you read,
Which inspired your love of stories as you snuggled in your bed.
No deeper meaning or hyperbole, no societal commentary.
Just simply told narrations, making characters legendary.
“I’ve matured,” you might argue, “And my writing must be deep.”
But where does its value lie if it’s putting me to sleep?
Forgive me, literary writer, I mean no harm or disrespect,
I wish simply to remind you that pride oft makes us forget,
That we writers bare our souls when our thoughts are put to page,
Be it literary or whimsical, our stories are still upon a stage.
Readers have enough critique without authors being cruel,
Or lauding their credentials from some famous writing school.
One man’s trash might be a treasure, and those condescending frowns
Are just silly in a world, where jesters often wear the crowns.
There’s a need for every genre and the tales they impart
And the value of a story lies within the reader’s heart.
So stop looking down your noses and applaud your fellow scribe,
And we’ll all feel that much better without some bullshit diatribe.