Monday, November 15, 2010

You don't have to like my book...

but please be honest about your objections. An article in this week's Australian Jewish News quotes Rabbi Kennard as saying that my book "bases its presentation of religious Jewish life on inaccuracies and distortions (and) celebrates dishonesty...( that it' s full of)
misrepresentations, one-sided depictions and polemical arguments."
Yet he is unable to point to a specific inaccuracy, distortion, or misrepresentation. The fact is, words such as these can't be applied to the portrayal of fictional characters. The characters in my novel are just that - characters - and the way they behave is well within the realm of possibility. Just because he personally doesn't know any haredi people like those I've portrayed (or claims he doesn't), doesn't mean they don't exist.

As for the accusation that Dancing in the Dark celebrates dishonesty - that's simply absurd. The protagonist is extremely tortured and conflicted over the fact that she deceives her parents, and does so only because there is no other way she can achieve her dream.

But fellow writers, know that there will always be people who don't like what you write. There will even be people who object to the fact that you write. Why else are there so many articles and posts drifting around the blogosphere lately that bag the whole concept of National Novel Writing Month, telling people not to bother?

Laura Miller has written a post about why NaNoWriMo is such a bad idea, and Carolyn Kellog has written a beautiful one about why she's wrong. Veronica Roth writes sensibly about why
not writing is an important part of writing itself.

My own view? There may be times when a challenge like NaNoWriMo will be just what you need. There may be times when you'll need to stop and think. Rewrite. Edit. Think some more.

The publishing industry is full of people who will try to discourage you. A few years ago I did work experience at a publishing house that had just decided not to accept any more unsolicited manuscripts. The publisher - a woman who had been at the helm of that company for many years - told me that there were enough writers as it was. And when I asked her whether she thought that perhaps newcomers should be given a chance, she said, quite simply: 'They shouldn't be writing.'

Imagine what wonderful books we'd be missing out on if all new writers took that advice. Don't let the publishing industry put you down. If you want to write, then persevere. There will certainly be those who don't like what you write, but they don't have to. Why not write to please yourself? And if you do manage to write something you really love, chances are someone else will love it too.

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