Stories that Matter

Minions!

Despicable-Me-Minion-Rush

Ever since watching Despicable Me, I’ve developed an obsession with Minions. Seriously. I mean, these little dudes crack me up. Crack. Me. Up. If I’m having a crappy day, I’ll load a YouTube video and watch Minions. For like 20 minutes. Maybe more. There’s just something about these little yellow blobs I can’t resist. They’re not much to look at. They don’t even speak English. I don’t know what they speak. Maybe Minion, which seems to be a kind of whacked combination of French, English, Spanish and God only knows what else…maybe Swahili. But it doesn’t matter, because they make me laugh.

At first glance, you think they’re all the same. Yellow skin, blue dungarees, Chiclet teeth and big eyes. Oh and the little spikes of black hair. But look closer. They’re all different. Some of them only have one eye…which should actually creep me out, but I find it kind of cute. Am I worried about that? Maybe a little. Do I have a point to this blog other than sermonizing on the overall coolness of Minions?

Yeah. I’m getting there.

So here’s the thing. I’ve been doing some reading lately. I’ve read a lot of great books. Great. Like so great I can’t put them down. I love that. Totally makes my day when I start a book that resonates so deeply with me that I know I’ll have it finished by the next night. There are a lot of books out there. Millions. When they’re all squished together in different genres or even categorized by general fiction or christian fiction, you might think they’re all going to be the same, or pretty similar. Like Minions.

(RANT WARNING)

Sadly, unlike Minions, a lot of books I read are pretty similar. Like kind of almost exactly the same. You kind of know pretty much from the bottom of page three how it’s gonna go down. Like Minions, these kind of books might all differ slightly in appearance…different covers, different authors, different publishers, but as far as originality…the Minions have them beat. Hands down.

I suppose there must be a bunch of people out there who want to read the same thing over and over again or these books wouldn’t get published. Just give it a different title, slap a girl on the cover, but the guy has to get the girl in the end…oh and somebody has to get saved. Maybe a few people. Don’t forget the scripture references. If it’s ABA of course they will more than likely end up sleeping together. A few times. And there’s always a HEA (happily ever after), which I’m all for, but really? Could I get a little side of reality with that sappy story, please?

It would appear I’m getting a little snarky here, and okay, I am. But… Help me understand this. How is this interesting or even entertaining or God forbid…enlightening? And where is the originality?

I’m scratching my head. I mean…really.

Okay, so here’s the thing.

I want to be a Minion.

I don’t mind being lumped together in that group called “AUTHOR”. Heck, I don’t have choice – there are a bajillion authors out there…and maybe a lot of them are writing the same kind of stories I am…but if we’re doing our job well, our books should all be different. Shouldn’t they? You might know what to expect on a general level, like you know a Minion is yellow, but you don’t know what they’re going to do next. They’re unpredictable. That’s what makes them fun. They surprise us. They make us laugh. There’s nothing run-of-the-mill about them.

I don’t want to be run-of-the-mill. I want to be different. Original. I’m not willing to settle for ho-hum writing. If I do that, if I settle, then what’s the point, really? So maybe I’m sitting here just trying to cheer myself up because it’s a little discouraging to read a book that makes me a little nauseous and know there’s a whole market out there for it and a ton of other books just like it… I can’t help but wonder if my books even have a snowballs chance in hell (cliche alert! What can I say, I’m tired…) of finding readers who want something different…I hope they’re out there but I don’t know that for sure. Maybe there’s really no rhyme or reason to this publishing gig at all. I don’t know.

Maybe this a battle cry of sorts. An exhortation to all the authors out there like me who want to be different. Don’t settle. Don’t compare. Be better. Be great. Be awesome.

Be a Minion.

Yeah, you heard him.

Let’s do it.

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8 Comments

  1. F. Farrell on April 13, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Yes and Amen from a reader who owns over 1,000 books, (thank you Mom and Dad for starting my collection!)
    As a family, we are collectively sick of books that lack spark, inventiveness, and something to shake the story up.
    If a good book is about life, a characters life, then each book should be different, because every life is different.

    That’s why when I started my Pinterest board of my picks for best fiction, I called it Unique Fiction, because I wanted to showcase the ones that stood out to me as unique. There’re rare, but even more precious because of that.

    I’d rather have five excellent books to read, treasure, and remember, than 20 “identical twins” that all follow the same plots, use the same plot devices, and have the same contrived happenings…. with the biggest difference being the cover design.

    I almost wonder if creative authors are discouraged from being two different, because the market demands *this* from Amish, and *this* from romance, and *this* from historical… and it can all feel so cliched.

    🙂

    • Cathy West on April 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Faith! Thank you!! I do truly believe that change is coming. It just takes a while. And sometimes I get frustrated. But thank you for letting me. 🙂

  2. Jennifer Zarifeh Major on April 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    “Don’t settle. Don’t compare. Be better. Be great. Be awesome.”

    SOOOO true!! I am SO glad that you’re aiming higher than the starched white cap of an Amish maiden in love with a (insert type of white guy here).

    I love your work!

    And if I could, I’d give you a minion.

    • Cathy West on April 13, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      Man, I want a Minion. 🙂 A Minion called Bert. That would be cool. “Hi, Bert.”

  3. Jeanne Takenaka on April 13, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    We’re big fans of minions in this house. I’m not sure how many times we’ve watched Despicable Me 1 or 2 on family movie night. 🙂 We.Love.Minions.

    And I love your challenge to make our writing QUALITY writing. There may be similarities, but let the story be unique, moving, challenging, and most of all well written.

    Maybe if I ever get a minion, I’ll name him Ernie. 😉

    • Cathy West on April 14, 2014 at 7:57 am

      Ha! They can be best friends!

  4. Terri Wangard on April 14, 2014 at 10:46 am

    I often wonder if agents and editors pass on me because I write outside the lines, just a little. Formula writing does get boring.

    • Cathy West on April 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Terri – some houses want different. Keep pressing on! 🙂 We’re all in it together, no time to give up.

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