While trying to study this morning, I was distracted by the Today’s Professional segment on The Today Show. I don’t often pay much attention to that segment, just because one of the “professionals” really gets on my nerves. But this morning, the topic of discussion intrigued me. As a writer, publishing trends catch my attention. This trend was about teen novels, and as my sons are rapidly approaching their teen years, I was very interested in what might be discussed.
What I heard left me feeling outraged. I swear, I’d like to get my hands on someone (that “professional” that annoys me, perhaps?) and shake some sense into them.
How can someone possibly think that writing Fifty Shades of Grey-style novels for teens is actually a good idea?
I have never read the Fifty Shades trilogy and I don’t intend to. From what I have heard from a variety of sources, the book is, at best, “soft” porn. There is a strong focus on the sexual relationship between the two main characters, including some rather detailed descriptions of their actions. I don’t know, really, how the term “soft” applies; porn is porn. Call it what it is.
There is little doubt in my mind that this series of novels I getting into the hands of teen girls. They see their mother reading it, some probably even see Mom trying to hide that she is reading, and can’t wait to read it themselves. Thinking it will make them look “cool” to their friends, they probably slip it off the bookshelf as soon as Mom has finished reading it and sneak the books to school.
And now some brilliant mind in the publishing industry has decided that making similar books for teens, apparently books in a new sub-genre called “steamies,” is a good, money making idea. So how did that conversation go? “Let’s exploit young girls, take away the last vestige of innocence they have, and give them explicit tales of teenage lust that will completely distort their idea of what love is about. It’s brilliant!”
It’s something, all right. Not sure that brilliant is the right word for it, though.
As parents today, we need to reach our kids to value themselves enough to just enjoy the gentle, tenderness of first love as it unfolds and to respect themselves and the one they love enough to not give into the lust just because peers and society say it is the cool thing to do. Not an easy thing to do with the pressures of society and that entertainment choices that are readily available to teens today. I know a lot of parents who have worked hard to do that, and still have kids who focus on the lust rather than the love.
So maybe it is time for the publishing industry to help out.
No, I don’t think this one blog post—or even a series of blog posts like it—will stop publishers from producing steamies. Publishers are in it for the money; they don’t often care who might be harmed by the books they publish so long as the sales improve their bottom line.
But this is one author who DOES care. I am not willing to compromise my children or their friends in order to make a little money. Yes, it is hard to make a steady income with writing. But it is not worth it to me to make money at this career if it means causing harm to someone else. And porn hurts, in a lot of ways. Not that I have the time go into all of those ways today! But it does hurt, and I refuse to be a part of it.
Someone recently asked me to define what being a successful writer means to me. Success to me is touching one life with my words, making a positive impact on someone with the story that God gave me to write. Writing a story that emphasizes sex is not something that I can see having a positive impact on anything. I won’t do it. No matter how much money a publisher offers me to do it.
I wish other writers would stand up with me on this. I’d love to somehow build a network of writers who are committed to not only getting young men and women to read, but to giving them books worth reading. But even if I have to stand alone in this, that is what I will do.