Writing Passions v. Publishing Pablum

Recently I read a great online piece about writing your passions in Writer’s Digest. It addressed the now seemingly clichéd advice to “write what you know” as great for beginners but espoused how eventually you should evolve as a writer and let your passions be your guide, your inspiration.

I wholeheartedly agree and have previously written about this herein. Mostly because I have a hard time comprehending how anyone could write without being passionate about something. To me, it shows in the story if the writer is just following a stale, dogmatic formula and has put nothing of their personal selves into the prose. Or worse, the characters themselves have no passions.

Problem is, my passions these days seem to be stoked in anger and despair for that which once gave me direction, and hope, and purpose.

Take the Constitution, for instance. I’ve infused the First and Fourth Amendments from the Bill of Rights into my work beginning with my first Other Worldly novel, Alienable Rights, but these days I’m at a loss. Why put my faith in something now rendered about as useful as a vengeful invisible deity, also created by men, for men, to only serve the passions of men?

It’s hard to be passionate about all that has been eviscerated at the expense of the female gender.

And then there’s the physical environment. As in the benefits or natural and cultural resource protections, and the perils of climate change. With my legal background, this has always been a passionate issue to pursue, and to write about.

My passion for petroglyphs and concern for endangered species, for instance, are interwoven into the plots of my novels. I also reference the Clean Water Act in my most recent work, Alien Sensation, as well as the dangers of mining heedlessly, without concern for damaging impacts to the surrounding environment, as well as natural resource depletion driven by greed.

Planetary degradation is a very real and dire problem; hence it is a recurring focus in the Other Worldly series. Yet the messages I’ve imparted seem futile in a nation where climate change is a punchline or a taboo subject (see previous post regarding rules of a writing contest) for far too many whose selfishness is daunting to those who actually give a damn about something other than their own pettiness. And then there’s those on Twitter haplessly attributing Earth’s intense heat wave to “the sun” or “mother nature” instead of the hubris of human greed and consumption.

As an aside, I’ll note that passions can also be sexual. But if you write about those in any capacity, be prepared to be informed by some of just how much they don’t share your passions. Does this mean I’m not supposed to write about mine? This is yet another reason I passionately avoid the literary agent search so fervently sought by others these days. Especially those agents with a longer list of what they don’t like, or aren’t passionate about, than the list of what they are pro-actively seeking.

I’m not passionate about twisting myself and my writing into knots to conform to what might be considered potentially commercially successful to a major publisher—pablum for the mindless masses who think a reality TV star is someone to idolize or lap up advice from. Nor am I willing to constrain myself to dictates and limited tastes of any given literary agent who won’t or can’t respect my passions as exhibited in my work.

You know what else kills passions of a writer and respect for the industry? Seeing major publishing houses handing out book deal after book deal to seditious criminals, to vile narcissists, and to vapid no-talent fools.

If that’s what sells, so be it. But I don’t choose to write it or be it. And I suspect that this lack of integrity in traditional publishing might be the final straw in the decline of an outdated, greed-mongering business that has historically exhibited astonishing amounts of misogyny.

And then there’s the autocratic Amazon empire. The malevolent machinations in the form of bad faith business dealings it heaps upon independent authors and publishers is enough to kill any last remnant of writing passion. It’s demoralizing and entirely unnecessary. Authors make pennies on the dollar for their work. Amazon rakes in billions.

Nonetheless, I will keep writing. Because the passion is there, if for no other reason than to be able to call out the insipid crap, and to ensure that the bad and the ugliness lose, if only in the pages of my novels.

Therein, I can assure you the former president and his cohorts, including more than a few bigoted scumbags wreaking havoc in the judiciary and legislative branches of government, are criminally indicted and/or revealed for who and what they are. Intent on destruction of everyone’s passions but their own.

There’s even a bit of snark about the passion- and momentum-killing book publishing industry in Being Alien, fourth novel of the Other Worldly series.

The recently released Alien Sensation includes my passions for gemology and geology, as well as hummingbirds, sea otters, and perhaps a Sauvignon Blanc or two.

And coming in book six, Altogether Alien, protagonist Rowan Layne will struggle with maintaining her passion for life and pursuits of passion in a world gone mad by realities too many humans won’t accept. Like climate change, and an ever-changing diverse world wherein humans aren’t necessarily supreme, and aliens aren’t the ones trying to destroy our planet.

4 thoughts on “Writing Passions v. Publishing Pablum”

  1. A post after my own heart! I posted about being what I called authentic last month, meaning just what you’re saying here. My new project is ever so much more fun than anything I’ve done before. I think I at last understand what is meant by “just write a good story.” Thanks for sharing!

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