Today we welcome fantasy writer Ty Johnston. His latest novel, Demon Chains, has just been released and is available in a variety of e-formats from all the regular e-tailers. His other novels include City of Rogues, Bayne's Climb, and Ghosts of the Asylum (all available for the Kindle, the Nook, and online at Smashwords). You can follow his blog at tyjohnston.blogspot.com.
And now...here's Ty!
I have a confession to make. Actually, sort of, several confessions. I’m a fantasy writer, but there are still a lot of other fantasy writers I’ve never read, or I’ve read very little of their work. Many of these are names you will likely know, and yes, I feel guilty for not having read these authors.
Who are they? Here are some names:
George R.R. Martin
Stephen R. Donaldson
Now, before you go all fan boy on me and roll your eyes saying something like, “Oh my gosh, how can he call himself a fantasy writer when he has never read (insert fanboy’s favorite author here),” keep in mind one simple thing.
There are a lot of writers I’ve never read, and while I spend a lot of time reading and writing, certain authors have slipped past me over the years. I average reading about 50 books a year, which I consider slow. I wish I were a faster reader, one of these people who plows through 200 novels a year, but unfortunately, I’m not.
It’s not that I’ve intentionally ignored such authors as the ones listed above, but that there is so much out there to read. For that matter, I do own books and e-books written by all of those writers above, but I’ve yet to get around to those books.
Concerning my career as a writer, mainly a fantasy fiction writer, I still consider myself fairly well read in the genre. Here are some of the speculative authors I have read, most quite extensively:
Karl Edward Wagner
Steven R. Boyett
Have you read all the works of all those authors? If not, then don’t judge me. If you have, well, laddy da! Good for you.
Truthfully, though, I’ve read a lot of other fantasy authors, as wells. A number I’ve never gone back to because I did not care much for their writing. I won’t name names, but there are some better known fantasy authors who didn’t do much for me. I don’t hold it against them. I simply figure I am not their audience.
And that’s the thing about opinions concerning fiction writing. If there is something you don’t like, an author or a book, you are not part of the audience for that particular writer or product. Oh, the writer always had hope you and a bunch of others might be part of the audience, but in the end, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Some writers have lots of fans, some don’t. The same can be said for novels, short stories, movies, food, music, etc. If you like it, if you love it, you’re part of the audience. If not, well, then you’re not.
Before you try something, at best you are part of the potential audience. Then after you’ve come to an opinion, you fall down either within or outside of the audience.
It’s really that simple.
So, for you writers out there, don’t get worked up too much if someone doesn’t like what you write. They are not your audience. What you do with that knowledge is up to you. You can keep working the way you are, hopefully building upon your current audience, or you can try something different in hopes of retaining your current audience will drawing in others.
For readers, just keep in mind not everything written, filmed, cooked, recorded, etc. necessarily is intended for your personal, unique taste. Sometimes it is, but often enough it is not. There is little reason to be offended when something doesn’t draw your love, though it is likely time to move on to something else, to search elsewhere for that which you will enjoy.
For instance, I hate pickles, but I don’t lose sleep over it. I also don’t spend my life on the Internet griping about pickles. Now, I admit, if someone tries to force pickles upon me, that’s a different story. Then I would rail to the high heavens about how much I hate pickles and the individual trying to force pickles down my throat.
Otherwise, I keep my mouth shut.
Looking back over what I have just written, one might think I had a bone to pick with readers or reviewers. Actually, I don’t. I have had some bad reviews, as has any writer with works in the public eye for any amount of time, but for the most part they don’t bother me. Oh, I’ve had some I thought were downright silly or even mind boggling, making me wonder if the reviewer even read my material, but again, I don’t lose sleep over it. I keep chugging along, doing what I think is best, because that’s all any writer can do.
No, I’m not out to target reviewers. There are some good ones out there and ... well, some who need some polish, in my opinion. If I am to offer any advice on the subject matter, I would suggest reviewers try to be civil and, if possible, to be helpful. Writers truly want to know what readers do and do not like about their works. Such information can help to inform the writer what he or she is doing right and what he or she is doing wrong.
Because readers are where it’s at. Readers are what keep us going. Hell, readers pay the bills.
I’m not suggesting writers should totally sell out and give readers everything they want, but readers do need to be in the writer’s mind when working. All writers write for themselves to some extent or other, but we also write for the pleasure of others.
Because if we’re not pleasing others, at least to some extent or other, we won’t be writing very long.
And none of us wants that.
Okay, none of us writers want that. Some of the rest of you might wish some of us would just go away and shut up.
Which I will now do.