neyronrose (neyronrose) wrote,

rubbernecking -- and then just rambling

     I'm apparently one of those people who will stop to look at a metaphorical train wreck winding through a few blogs.  I'm drawing a few things from it.  The policy that seems to work best is that if authors disagree with one another, or have problems with their readers and/or reviewers, it's best to be as civil as possible about it in public.  The line between writers-reviewers-readers seems so thin and blurry when you're talking about m/m authors and e-books.  It's really a small community, although I believe there's a lot of potential for growth in the genre.  Right now there's such a range of writing quality, but I believe that the books that will survive and cross over will be the ones that are really well written.  It does make a difference.  I think it's perfectly legitimate to judge writing quality and content -- if it's done for mainstream books, why not for e-books?  I understand that it's painful for writers to feel criticism right away, but they also get praise just as immediately.  That's the tradeoff. 

     Edited to add: So a couple weeks later I'm still following the train wreck, and was very tempted to make a comment on Teddypig's blog, The Naughty Bits:  But I figured, better to stay out of it there.  I tend to comment on things on other blogs mainly just as a reader and fan of certain authors, but considering that I do some editing, I really should keep in mind the standards for acting professional.  Obviously, I think it's okay if I do fangirly squeeing about authors whose writing I enjoy, and complain without naming names about faults some other authors in the m/m genre commit.  But I'm not sure how much I should be "taking sides" in public.  It's kind of scary to me that people who are better with computers than I am can resurrect posts and comments that have been deleted (locked?), and track peoples' computer addresses.  So it's clearly better to keep public comments positive if you are talking about anyone in particular -- at least, about someone who might actually read your commentary.  There's only so much you can really "know" somebody from what they say online.  I tend to take the side of the person who is taking more of the high road in a disagreement, though.  I don't like people yelling at me, so I'm more likely to be sympathetic to the person who is being attacked for reasons I feel are unjustified.

     I think I do talk more about the authors' works than about the authors themselves, because I don't know most of the authors except for what they say in their journals -- and I only follow a few journals regularly.  I was surprised a couple of years ago to learn that most of the authors who were writing the gay romance I was reading were women.  I think the tagline as m/m romance creeps into more mainstream publishing is pretty stupid: "By straight women for straight women."  Hey, why not reach out to the gay male audience that's out there, too.  And some of the women authors are not all that straight, saying publicly that they're bi.  Heck, some of the authors are female-bodied, but don't especially think of themselves as female.  You could look at that as something of an advantage in portraying the male viewpoint, although there are plenty of straight women who do just fine writing realistic male characters.  I'm fascinated with discussions about the variations in sexuality and gender identification.  It's cool if someone volunteers the information.  But if they want to keep it private, that's their right.  

     Back to the rest of the original post: For me, coming from the reading background that I do, I have a somewhat different perspective on m/m romance.  (I've posted about this before, so feel free to skip this paragraph if you've read the previous postings I've done about this.)  I read straight romance novels first, as so many women who read m/m romance do.  Then I took a bit of a different path by reading a lot of non-fiction on GLBT subjects.  I was reading all the books on bisexuals that I could find, trying to understand myself better.  There really were very few books on bisexuals in the early nineties.  My dealings with other students in the GLBT organization on campus were sometimes rocky.  There was still a fair amount of separatist feeling from some of the lesbians I knew in college, so I'd get into arguments with them about me liking men.  Some of the students felt resentment towards me for my having heterosexual privilege -- I still feel ambivalent about that.  But they recognized me as being a fag hag -- I think of myself as having become a literary fag hag now.  I got into reading gay erotica in large part because those books were among the few books with gay subject matter available in mainstream bookstores.  So, little surprise that I would like m/m romance -- the best of it takes my favorite elements from straight romance and from gay erotica and blends them seamlessly.  I never did get into reading fan fiction or slash fiction, though I understand the appeal of writing an intense homosocial relationship as developing into a homoerotic one -- some male/male "buddy" pairings seem to lend themselves so naturally to that.  The Hercules/Iolaus one is particularly striking because in the source materials, Hercules and Iolaus were lovers.

     I think it's sad that modern American culture doesn't allow for men to have homoerotic feelings for each other without sticking a label on the men.  I do believe strongly that some men are pretty much completely straight or gay.  But I believe there's a lot of gray in between for other men.  And so many feel that they can't express those homoerotic feelings in a healthy way.  Their judgements that they can't afford to are often all too accurate.  I have some problems with middle-class men being concerned that they'll lose their social positions if they are at all honest about their feelings.  That seems a little superficial to me.  Not that I'm all that open in real life -- and definitely not in the workplace.  But I think that once you get to know someone, you can get a good feeling as to whether you can afford to be honest with them.

     I have difficulty with some m/m plots in which a protagonist only feels attracted to one other man -- that's a convention of fan fiction, I think.  I have the opinion that a man who's more-or-less bisexual would feel attraction to more than just one man, and I want the fiction I read to reflect that.

     And, wow, did I go off track from my original thoughts.  Just as well, perhaps.

Tags: gay-related, glbt, m/m, romance

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