As an LDS author, my purpose in writing was to create a clean, fun, flirty chick lit book that would appeal to both LDS and non-LDS audiences. I wanted my books to be realistic to life, but not to have excessive bad language, explicit sex scenes or anything too crude or vulgar. At the same time, I knew it couldn’t be a book that was all butterflies and roses. Life, even an LDS life, does not have people walking around saying “darn” and smiling in every situation. So, I wrote my books. I made them as clean as I could, but still realistic. Words like “crap” and “freaking” are words that I occasionally use and do not find offensive. Basically I kept everything PG according to my temple-recommend-holding-returned-missionary-living-in-the-real-world moral code.
Then the reviews started coming. There are three types of reviews, for those who aren’t familiar with it. The majority were super positive (which I love!). There were a few super negative (which make me cry. Seriously), and then here and there a couple of the blah in between reviews where they say “It was a good book, but meh.” Now, here’s where this gets interesting. The negative reviews I received were written by both LDS and non-LDS people. The LDS people expected the book to be more LDS and “Molly Mormon”. They didn’t like the border-line crude language in parts, nor the implication that one of the secondary characters in my Hollywood novel was gay. They felt that I, as an LDS writer, should have made the main character 100% LDS in every word and thought. On the other hand, the non-LDS commentors wanted the book to be more “Fifty Shades of Grey”. They wanted the characters to do more than just kiss. They wanted a book like hundreds of other romance novels out there.
I read these reviews and felt conflicted. Was I right in my purpose? I wrote a clean, fun, flirty book that a lot of members and non-members love. But why then were there a few people that strongly disliked it?
It took a little while, but finally I had an epiphany… I cannot please everyone. Simple. As much as I want to be the most beloved author in the world, that is impossible. Even authors who have sold millions of copies of their novels, like Stephenie Meyers, Sophie Kinsella or J.K Rowling, have received negative reviews. I know a lot of LDS people who refuse to read the “Twilight” books because they don’t adhere to church standards. Then there are even more LDS people who love the books and the movies and think they are great.
So what’s the moral of this story? Write your book. Figure out who you want your audience to be. And then be proud. You created something that nobody else could have created! As President Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Whitney Boyd, author of TANNED, TONED AND TOTALLY FAKING IT and soon to be released ICED ROMANCE. You can read her blog at whitneyjboyd.blogspot.com.