Sunday, February 04, 2007

Your thoughts, please?

Okay, just for a change of pace, I’d like to pose a serious question to my readers and seek your response to this. Those of you who are registered at my newsgroup may have already seen much of this being discussed yesterday, but I’m still having a hard time working out how I feel about it all, so would like the perceptions of others.

Saturday was a difficult day for me, as an author and as a person. I've been happily writing a new romance novel this past month, a novel aimed at Harlequin's "Presents" line. The book was inspired by someone I love very much, and has been almost magical to write. When I went to MySpace yesterday, I discovered new messages -- not nice ones. A few of his fans have accused me of exploiting his popularity to further my own interests. I can honestly say that this interpretation of my actions never even occurred to me as I shared the idea and the early pages of the book with some of his fans. They were all as enthusiastic as I was, and embraced the project. Personally, I'd rather slit my own throat than ever exploit the talent and work of someone I greatly respect and admire, but... Having let the hurt, (believe me when I tell you some tears were shed), and anger subside a little, I'm honest enough to see that some people might see it in the light it was presented. Which leads me to a question for all of you to consider, and maybe even offer some insight on: When does admiration and inspiration become exploitation, in your opinion? If the object of your "inspiration" is another artist who is vastly more successful than you are, are you really exploiting that art to further your own goals?

The second part of that question also needs addressing: Does anyone, without knowing you at all, have the right to decide what the motives are behind your creations as an author? Inspiration is a different thing for anyone who writes/creates, and my motives are generally not the same as the next author's, even within the same genre. So, does a fan have any justifiable reason to tell me that I dare not write a particular story? Your thoughts? While I am not exactly under attack here, I have been down this road before, so I'm looking for honest thoughts about how to handle it?? I know it stopped me cold and not a new word has been written despite my best efforts to ignore it all. Today I am still ambivalent about the book.

So, the floor is yours, my friends and readers. Tell me what you think??? And thanks in advance for any insights you care to put forth.


  1. Denyse,
    I've given this a lot of thought and since I have known you for many, many moons now, i feel I can comment truthfully on the topics you broached in your blog.
    Inspiration is a rare and special gift, running the gamut from making commercials to creating great art. Writing is more towards the art side of the spectrum and while not all writing is inspirational or exceptional, we as readers should at least respect the fact that another person - a creative soul - took words and fantasy and imagination and fashioned a story or poem. Something original, it is hoped, something with a spark of uniqueness. When a person, be he a close friend or business partner or an actor, inspires a story or poem, I feel that end piece is more personal, more intimate and most assuredly, infused with deeper feeling. Yes, even negative feelings count. It is a compliment to that inspirational person when the piece created is something well-written, entertaining, exciting. But can this become exploitive? Yes, it can and often, although not meant to be that way. it becomes a case for exploitation, sensationalism.

    Within fan writing exploitation becomes almost the norm at times - the excessive MarySue stories, the slash couplings that unquestionably bizarre and truly exploitive in nature (someone getting off on slash by putting two straight guys or girls together just to do it, is deliberate exploitation - it is rude, is it insensitive, it is selfish and it in intrusive of the lives of the people being written about).
    Writing a story that is romantic or even erotic in nature and using the image of a person one finds inspirational or sensually attractive can be tasteful, entertaining - and quite honestly, highly complimentary to the actor, singer, whomever being used as the subject of that story. In all of the years I have known you, Denyse, and all of the many years I have had the honour and pleasure of not only reading your work but editing and publishing it within the fan realm, I have never known you to exploit anyone on whom you created a character for a story or novel. I see no reason why your attitudes and writing style should change now that you're a profesional. I have admitted to you that some of the things you write really don't appeal to me - I'm hardly a prude but a lot of the erotica doesn't entertain me. However, you have shown exceptional taste and honesty in your writing, irregardless of the subject matter or main character image you've selected. You've never made an actor or celebrity you've styled a character after as vile or determinedly evil. The sensuality and sexuality attributed to your "cast" charcaters have been healthy and provocative without stopping to exploitation.
    To those who would decry your fantasy charactes based on real living beings as being exploited - I can only remark that it truly is ion the mind of the reader. After all, if someone writes about this celebrity or that actor with incredible sensitivity and sensuality, and offers even good sex scenes ... couldn't the problem be that you, Denyse, are able to produce with your fine craft the sort of fantasy some readers desire and are envious they cannot produce? It seems to me that complaints are coming from those readers who are a tad been jealous that you "got there" before they did - and you did it with style, panache, a good measure of respect and genuine affection for the man you've used as a character in your story. Those readers might be able to write something blatantly sexy, but would it be good? Would it be warm and sensual? Would be naturally arousing and even moreso, easily satisfying? And would it be something that said acto or celebrity could read without feeling embarassed, or worse, raped on the page?
    You haven't got it in your pen to embarass an object of your devotion. I'll challenge anyone to write something an eigth as professional and pleasing as your fantasy that contains the professionalism, non-exploitive approach you bring to this and other works.
    It's so very easy to complain. It's really hard to back up a complaint with solid facts decrying the piece.
    People, sit back, read a story, enjoy it. Your imagination has been momentarily consumed by a real writer.

  2. Denyse, I've known you for 13 or 14 years now, I've sat at your kitchen table many times sharing a cup of tea and discussing performers, writers and fan fiction, among other things, and I can honestly say there isn't an exploitive braincell in your skull. You genuinely admire and respect those performers who have inspired your writing, and you have never used their images, either real-life or that of the fictional characters they may portray, in a dishonest way. Any people you have been inspired by may be, and often are, justly flattered by your treatment of them.

    Speaking of inspiration, the greatest writers, and the greatest characters, in the history of humanity have been inspired by actual living breathing people—indeed what writer does not incorporate larger or smaller elements of people they know, have met or have heard of into their stories? Where else do you find truth? We may enjoy Roadrunner cartoons but there's no emotional truth in them because they're not in any way real. Dishonest writing includes the sensationalized falsehoods of the celebrity tabloids, yet we don't hear people complaining about that—no, that's just juicy gossip, tell us more, and make it as wild, as bad, as you can! (and be sure to use the ugliest photos)... It also includes slash fiction (which you and I both despise) because it is as far from the true nature of the characters as you can get, and could definitely be considered hurtful to and exploitive of the actors playing them, yet it fills fanpage after fanpage on the internet. It is blatantly obvious to me that your attackers have no deep care for the performer they profess to love but are purely and simply exhibiting the daggers of jealousy. They seem to forget they have no rights over him, no ownership papers, they are neither parent, spouse, sibling, nor official Protector. We've both run into these kinds of individuals before
    (in extreme circumstances they may even turn into psychotic stalkers)—do not let these petty, poisonous and shallow creatures stunt your efforts. Ignore them and continue your heart's-work with love and joy.


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.