17 September 2009

The book of my brain

This book-writing thing is a strange profession that offers highs and lows enough to make me dizzy. Actually the writing is the easy part. The publishing part is what drives many authors to drink.

The bitter truth is no matter how good I think a book is, others need to think the same before it ends up on the shelves, and even after it sells, the strange up-and-down journey only continues.  Some readers love it. Others do not. One review gives it five stars, another two. Oy.

This past week, I got a slightly hotter than lukewarm review for my most recent book, ART OF LOVE. The reviewer noted that the scholarly disputes...so much a part of university life...bogged down the story. Pretty much what I expected. I knew the disputations were too complicated when I wrote it, but I decided not to care. It was the book of my brain, not the book of my heart. For me, it worked because:

  1. It's historically accurate. This was the life of a medieval scholar.
  2. I over enjoyed the endless philosophical readings necessary to craft the disputes and make sure my hero won.
  3. Writing the story allowed me to pretend to be as smart as my characters (believe, I'm not) and imagine what it would be part of such a vibrant time and atmosphere.

So, yeah, I knew readers would likely enjoy that part of the story less. They read to be entertained, after all, but I'd hoped the story would deliver on the romance and entertainment. And based on the rest of the review--and reader letters--it did.

One reader wrote: "I finally completed 'Art of Love.' It was complicated and wonderful." She read it while visiting her husband in the hospital after he had a heart attack. It took her mind off her own worries--and that, to be honest, is the real goal in writing. To touch someone's life, if only for a little while.

Oh, and the next story is more emotional and less cerebral, much less.

7 comments:

Celia Yeary said...

KEENA--how interesting. You must write on a different plane than I. I loved the reader's comment--"I finally completed 'Art of Love'. It was complicated and wonderful."
I couldn't ask for a better review--and from a reader, no less. I value readers' comments more than "real" reviewers." Good for you. Celia

Mona Risk said...

Keena, I think readers' comments are even better than a good review. If a reader takes the trouble to write an email and put down her thoughts she must have really enjoyed the book.

Cheryl said...

Keena,
As you know, I LOVED that book! My own sister asked to borrow it and I told her NO. LOL You know how I appreciate the intelligence of your writing--I've told you that before. I think you probably ARE as smart as your characters or you couldn't understand their arguments well enough to write them, Miss Keena! LOL That took a lot of talent and research. Great book. I loved it.
Cheryl

Keena Kincaid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keena Kincaid said...

Mona, Celia and Cheryl,
Thanks for the supportive comments--esp. you, Cheryl (trust me, I'm not that smart). Reader letters are truly wonderful.

And Alain is still my favorite hero. One of the few I'd like to meet. :-)

LK Hunsaker said...

Ah, Keena, I'm sighing with you. I put "too much" into my books also and it makes it a "slow read" for those used to quick-paced romantic fiction. However, that handful who truly love to learn when they read beyond only entertainment very much appreciate the effort. I'm axious to read Art of Love, also -- more since I know about the cerebral philosophical discussions involved.

Keena Kincaid said...

It's a hard balance, isn't it? As you can tell, I always struggle between keeping it quick-paced and interesting while providing the meat that many readers do like.