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The Naked Page

Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary

12.11.2006

Giving Myself Cavities

A friend mentioned recently having read a few of my early books and commented on how they managed to be blatantly sexual and yet sweet at the same time. My first reaction was to think, "Sweet?! My writing?! No way."

I have long bristled at the word "sweet." I once considered it a comment on a person's character that is so cliche and generic that it's basically meaningless. Hence my reaction when I hear the word applied to my writing.

But I know deep down that it's true. I've heard the comment enough times from my agents, my editor, and readers, that my stories, much to my once-chagrin, have an underlying sweetness about them, that it has forced me to face my inner sweet girl and give her a break.

It's something very interesting about writing. Once you've written enough that you have found your voice, you are essentially putting your personality on the page every time you sit down and write. The stronger your voice, the more of your true self you're putting out there.

I like to think of my novels as being kind of brash and hard-edged, but really that's an aspect of my personality. Just as I do in my writing, I tend to hide my gooey, cavity-causing center under a layer of brashness.

Having trouble finding your voice? Hearing comments in rejection letters about how you're writing isn't quite there yet, or isn't distinct enough, or doesn't stand out from the pack? Try to put more of yourself into your work. If you write the story in a way that is truly you, that reflects who you are as a person, then you'll be writing the story that only you can write. And you'll stop hearing those "it's not distinct enough" rejection comments.

One exercise I think can help you get in touch with your most distinct voice is to write a scene as if you were writing it for only your best friend to read. Feel free to use the language you think only he or she would appreciate or understand--slang, profanity, whatever--and allow yourself to relax like you would if you were having a conversation with that friend.

What aspect of your personality do you think you'd be most embarrassed to find reflected in your writing?

11 Comments:

At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Cindy Procter-King said...

That I'm a complete and total idiot.

Great post, Jamie. Especially like the question at the end that forced me to think long and hard about my answer.

I was once accused of being 'sweet' in my writing, as well. I think it refers to the amount of chocolate I eat whilst under control of my muse. And because I use words like "whilst."

Cindy

 
At 9:24 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Thanks Cindy. Don't worry, no one would ever mistake you for being an idiot...a weirdo, maybe, but not an idiot. ;-)

I think using words like whilst makes you sound English or something.

 
At 5:23 AM, Blogger Tim said...

And since you've put some of yourself into each book you've written... nice to get to know you a bit better, James... so to speak. :-D!

 
At 2:11 PM, Anonymous bethany said...

Sometimes people don't like my characters for some weird reason. I think my voice is pretty distinctive, just not pleasing to everyone.

 
At 3:01 PM, Anonymous melissa said...

That deep down, I'm nothing more than an explicit-love-scene-obsessed whore. ;-)

So I think the traditional no-sex romance novel tends to be boring. Is there something wrong with that? LOL

I don't know that anything would embarrass me about my books. If somebody had an issue with them, that would be their problem, not mine. BTW, Jamie, if there wasn't any sweet at all, it wouldn't be a romance, so don't worry about losing your brash image. ;-) My books definitely have a dose of sweet in them, because really, I'm about 50% whore and 50% sap. Maybe more like 60/40. lol

 
At 6:53 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Melissa, you are a girl after my own heart. ;-)

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Bethany, whoever doesn't like your characters is retarded. Your voice and characters are very distinct though, and the danger of being that distinct is that it will polarize readers--creating people who love or hate your work...which is ultimately a good thing. Always better to be polarizing than dull.

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Heh, Tim, I'm not dumb enough to put my entire personality in my books...and risk getting shipped off to the nearest padded cell. ;-)

 
At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Cindy Procter-King said...

I don't actually use words like whilst. I was just being an idiot!

C

 
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At 2:43 AM, Blogger Tim said...

I didn't say ALL of you. :-D But get to know you a bit better! :-D

 

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