Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Problem with Being a Writer

Obviously I love to write. One can see that from the sheer amount of posts I've managed here on just this one blog. I also love to read. It's a passion I've had since I was young. There were nights I'd stay up reading so very late, even though I knew I had school in the morning.

In recent years, since I've become much more serious about the tone of my writing, I've noticed a rather disturbing trend: I pay a lot more attention to the quality of the books I read. Why should this be disturbing?

Have you ever sat at a concert and noticed the singer/instrument was slightly off key? Or have you sat down to play a game where you know someone is cheating?

Maybe this will make it a little clearer. I could liken it to my first doctor's appointment when I found out I was pregnant with M. They called down for someone to come take my blood. I didn't know until too late he was fairly new, and I have really sneaky veins. They don't like to come out and play. I watched as he started on my right arm, dug around a while, couldn't find anything, and went to my left arm. Same thing happened. I distinctly recall thinking to myself as I watched the needle swivel inside my skin, "Well, that can't be good."

He went from there to my right hand. Those are sure painful. He managed to fill about two vials when the vein pooped out (neither of us realized I just needed to move my hand around until things started flowing again). So he tried the other hand. Eventually we had to call someone else up. In one swift poke she had all the necessary vials filled (I was real pretty when I went to work after that fun experience).

There are times when reading a book is like watching needles swivel around in my arm, or hearing someone sing slightly off-key, or knowing the person with whom you are playing a game is cheating: painful, annoying, irritating, and grating. You know that in the hands of someone more professional, the deed could be done beautifully.

A few years ago someone sent my mom a book, one this woman highly recommended. My mom read it and then passed it on to me with a comment like, "You'll have to tell me what you think." She said this in an uncertain voice. I quickly figured out why.

It was so bitingly awful I've blocked the author and name of the book from my mind. I couldn't help thinking, "And a publisher actually allowed this out of their company????"

Fortunately I don't get books that bad too often, yet neither do I find myself with fantastically written books a lot these days either. I can say the mark of a great book for me is one I'm not mentally rewriting at the same time I'm reading it, nor am I skipping over boring passages in an attempt to further the story along (or if I do, I have to go back and read it anyway because it contained pertinent information!).

This is certainly not to say I'm tooting my own horn. I find myself rewriting everything I put down on a constant basis (you have no idea how many times I've gone back over it before posting, lol). The only reason half my posts are still here is because it takes sooooo long for my ISP to let me post in the first place, lol.

I'm reading a book right now by an author who has some great ideas, and a good bit of talent, but seems to think her readers are idiots! She explains everything that comes naturally to mind. She also spends a lot of time describing clothes, rooms, and scenery that bore me to death, while skimping on her character's feelings and how situations impact the character, something I'd like to know more about. I've figured out "whodunnit" and what the "major" clue was within the first few pages. What truly strikes me as sad is these could have easily been taken care of by a competent editor. This book just needed a little tweaking.

Yes, I'm sighing now.


Michael said...

I think you should write your own book. I heard an interview by F. Scott Fitzgerald once, where he said that one of the greatest motivations for him to become a writer was having read poorly written books, and thinking to himself: "I can do better than that." So you go girl, I think you can do better than that.

Brent said...

I know what you mean. I'm that way with film. Being an animator, I can spot bad animation (usually mine) from a mile away. It bugs me to no end some of the animated films that get released, they are so obviously bad in every way, story, style, animation, whatever. I can also spot a bad edit, which can ruin movies for me all together. So I try and just sit back and let my mind go numb sometimes and just enjoy the enjoyment of movies. Hard to do, but it's the only reason I like Transformers.