Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Box

I'm confused.

So writers, we gab. Romance novels are an industry fueled by gossip, never let anyone tell you otherwise.

I'm chatting with a writer friend a few days ago and she says something about how Editors (those mythic creatures longing for nothing more than to publish our masterpieces of literary beauteousness) are looking for books that are outside "The Box", but they aren't finding them because Agents (those mythic creatures longing for nothing more than to negotiate six-figure deals for our masterpieces of literary beauteousness) are looking for the Sure Thing, A.K.A. books inside "The Box". And the Editors are being funnelled books by the Agents. And so... dissonance.

(For the record, I don't know what Editors or Agents are looking for. Ask them. They're nice people. They'll probably answer you. But don't be surprised if the answer is "I'll know it when I see it" or "Great writing" or some other extremely subjective fob-off. And we're off topic...)

This was said in response to an agent rejection I got (standard fare rejection, no mention of Boxes). My friend (who, it should be noted, does write outside The Box - such that even I, in my Box confusion, recognize this) was trying to comfort me that Editors would love me, if I could get through the Agent Firewall to them. (The Agent Firewall is a myth, by the way, lots of publishing houses accept unagented submissions these days.)

I then expressed confusion, because I thought I wrote inside The Box.

I thought there were happy little Box walls surrounding me on all sides, keeping me nice and safe and cozy. I thought I was the Sure Thing, maybe even playing it a little too safe. I was actually afraid I was too firmly ensconced inside The Box. Sure, I bend a few rules, but doesn't everyone these days? I kinda thought The Box had grown to encompass a little snark and some salty language. But my friend tells me my voice is not Boxy. And I'm not really sure what to do with that.

Where is The Box? (Not that kind of box, you filthy-minded wretches.) What does The Box look like? Can you help me find it? Cuz I'm groping in the dark here and not having much luck. (If you're still thinking of other boxes, you should be ashamed of yourself. Ashamed.)
Maybe there's more than one Box? One for paranormals, one for historicals, one for contemporaries? Maybe it's more of a storage locker somewhere filled with boxes?

I got nuthin' and this metaphor is getting unwieldy.

What is standard in romance these days? Not that I'm going to alter myself to be standard - yeah, that ain't happening - but if I'm a rebel, I'd like to at least know it. I'm not looking for The Box so I can cram myself into it, but rather just so I'll know where it is, what it looks like, and in what ways I'm coloring outside the lines.

What's the norm these days? Can you tell me? Cuz like I said, I'm confused.

No comments: