Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Janet Evanovich in the NYT

There's a piece in today's New York Times about mystery author Janet Evanovich, and how she went from being a writer who once burned her rejection letters on the curb to a very successful author.

She's not just a writer--she's an industry. She hired a co-author and they turn out books often--too often in my view. Yes, she's found a way to be successful as an author and that is admirable. But what about the writing? She admits her writing is formulaic, but she says that's what readers want.

I suppose it all comes down to the standards we set for ourselves. My standards make me constantly trying to improve my writing (and constantly depressed about it).

Years and years ago, before I ever had anything published, my brother tried to talk me into writing romance novels--mostly because he thought they would sell. Of course romance is the hottest selling genre. But I couldn't do it. I didn't read romance and the thought of spending time on a genre that I wasn't personally invested in ... well, I couldn't.

That's not to say if you can, you shouldn't.

But the writing I'm interested in, that fascinates me, is writing that the author has crafted, spent time on--not just churned out.

I'd have more money and live in a better house if I was more commercially-minded. But money has never been my primary goal in life, in art, in anything, really.

What do you think?


Wendy said...

Amen. I spend too much of my time writing what other people want me to write (I work in the corporate sector). When I get the freedom to write with my own voice, I want to write what most satisfies me, not just what will sell.

Candice said...

Room enough for all kinds of writers, don't you think? Many readers do enjoy the predictability and familiarity of formulaic writing, whether it be in mystery, romance, erotica or thrillers, and I can't see any reason why they shouldn't have that. There will always be readers who want something more complex and more than enough literary writers to provide it.

I think it's fine for a writer to choose this as her niche, and if she can get rich doing it, well isn't that the American way? For some of us, it's about the art, but not all writers (or musicians or filmmakers or chefs) are artists. I applaud Evanovich for her good fortune and business sense, because even a great formula can't guarantee any measure of success in this business.

Anonymous said...

Of course there is room for Evanovich! She has tons of readers and does what she does very well. I occasionally read mysteries and thrillers. I have friends that write romance. I was just saying that I have no interest in doing what she does, that for me, writing is the thing and if I wanted to create an item to market, it wouldn't be formulaic writing.

Keris said...

I love Janet Evanovich and I love the Stephanie Plum books, but I started reading one of the co-written books and thought it was appalling. You wouldn't know it was written by the same person (if it was).

I've noticed this with other 'name' authors too - once they get big enough it seems they can get anything published. Patricia Cornwell's Hornet's Nest and John Grisham's The Summons spring to mind. Just bad.