Setting The Bar
Posted on May 10, 2012
After a long day of travel, I logged into the hotel internet and started catching up on the ephemera that we all use to distract us. One tweet caught my eye that quoted E.L. James and two new book ideas she’s currently considering. For those who don’t know who James is, she’s the author who wrote the salacious book Fifty Shades of Grey for which I wrote an opinion piece titled “Fifty Shades of Questions” that dissects how James may be changing the game for independent authors.
James’ book series remains at the top of the best selling list, and she’s currently on a book tour in the U.S. There’s really nothing new about her success, but there’s one quote about her new book ideas that caught my attention. In the USA Today article, James states, “I’ve got several more good ideas but how do you follow this?” she says. “I’ve set the bar quite high in terms of storytelling.”
The ideas that the interview refers to includes two ideas. One, she wants to write another erotic offering, although it’s not defined if it would include the same characters or exist in the same world as Fifty Shades. But it’s the second book idea that caught my attention. Her other book idea is a young adult paranormal novel.
I reflect back to her statement of setting the bar high because I’m caught by the idea of what bar we set for ourselves in comparison to the bar we expect from other writers. I know what literature I consider at the top in several different categories that include but are not limited to writing style, voice, fluency, subject matter, time period, genre, and success. For me, I think that James’ bar is really high within the success category. No one can deny that she hit the writing jackpot. In terms of writing style or subject, I can say that she is definitely successful within her own genre of erotic romance. But would I put her in the category of great literature?
James’ statement makes me question where I am setting my own bar. Because I read a lot, I’m aware of many different books from classic literature to modern classics. The only thing I’m sure of is that my genre is science fiction and fantasy. I have ideas both for young adult literature as well as for adult readers. Reading is essential to know what else is out there as well as what you like and don’t like. I definitely have my list of successful but not well written books on which I focus because I cannot help but want the success. But I know that my bar is at the top in terms of wanting to have clean writing and storytelling.
So where are you setting your bar?