Let me start his post by saying…yes, I am still writing. And not just the occasional blog post.
Now this statement…one of the things I heard often as a fledgling writer is, read often. I used to wonder how does a writer with a daytime job find time to read. The other thing you hear is, writers write. Therefore, I have to work to pay the bills, and should be writing when I am not working, when can I read? Well, I eventually I did find time for both reading and writing.
In fact, I read a lot!
I read when I am on the elliptical at the gym. I read when I cannot sleep. Unlike other writers, I cannot bring myself to write when the world is sleeping. Occasionally I read during my lunch break at work. However, most of those lunch hours are set aside for writing. I have never been more productive as a writer than making use of my lunch hours at my daytime job.
I am not a morning writer. Nor am I an evening writer. On those days when I don’t have to work, but really want to write, I cannot get my head straight until after 10:00 AM it seems. Then the words flow effortlessly. Which is why writing over my lunch time seems to work so well.
However, this post is not about writing, its about reading. As I said, I read a lot. So much so that I find myself scrambling for authors to read. For those of you who do read, you know how disappointing it is to take a chance on a new author, and a few chapters in, your are not enjoying yourself.
The internet has removed the gatekeepers of creativity from our world. No longer do songwriters, artists, and writers need the approval of corporate publishers to extend their creative talents to the masses. However, that same access is a double edged sword.
It allows people who either do not have the talent, or who have not put in the work to publish their creative works to the masses. By work I mean, even the most talented artist, writer, or musician does not create master pieces right out of the gate. They have to write to get better. An artist has to draw pictures or paint paintings, learning from their mistakes. A musician must play, compose songs, and take constructive criticism to get better.
I have written hundreds of thousands of words. I started writing when the only way to get published was to pass the corporate sensors quality control mechanisms so your short story can appear within the covers of a magazine. I sent those stories off with the upmost confidence that they would get published. Weeks later, my self addressed stamped envelope arrived with a from rejection note paper clipped to the manuscript. I would re-read the manuscript, and understand why it was rejected. It sure looked good when I sent if off.
Maybe someone switched it.
It was a tedious process, writing before the availability of cheap computers and word processing software. However, the ease of editing did not mean my writing got better.
Eventually I tackled my first novel. Wrote over 80,000 words. I loved the story…still do. But life got in the way, and I never finished it. Not until ten years later. That was the decade when I abandoned the idea of being a writer. Then after a stint in college, I revisited that manuscript, and finished it.
It still sucked and I apologize to my beta readers for putting you through that. Becaues editing became so difficult, I became frustrated and abandoned the project. The same thing happened with my second novel.
Then I started this blog. When I did so, I made a commitment to posting a couple times a week. Just random crap which no one read. But I was writing. I was developing my voice. I was learning to create flow. Between my posts and pages on this blog, there are over one hundred and fifty separate articles and stories. That is a ton of words.
If only we could weigh words!
Back to the crap I have been reading. Amazon made it possible a long time ago to self publish. It was one of the things that inspired me to write that first novel. I envisioned myself rising to the top of the Amazon self published author rankings with my epic space opera. Too bad I could not write.
What I am discovering, at least in the genre of science fiction, its not about quality, but quantity for some of these writers.
The last two authors whos series I have read, I liked the story; but was not a fan of their writing. Here is why.
My greatest critic reminded me frequently when I turned to him for advice, “Show, don’t tell.” The books I have read recently are strictly narrative. There is no picture painting. There is no scene building, and very little character development. The story is entertaining, but it is not gripping.
Steven King made a story about a haunted car gripping. Not because the story itself was entertaining. It is kind of dumb really, but as a reader, I could not put it down.
The other tactic these writers use is that of the old serial films. Those short cliffhanger type movies they showed in theaters prior to the advent of the television. In these books, the protagonist faces an impossible situation and either dives right in, and through the miracle of a lucky strike, or some unforeseen intervention, escapes with just cuts and bruises. Either that or they dream up some impossible solution that cannot later be used because the environment is not exactly the same. It is frustrating for me, a seasoned reader to have my intelligence insulted like that.
Anne McCaffrey did not have to write the Dragon Riders of Pern into difficult situations, chapter after chapter, to keep me reading. Living on Pern was a difficult situation, and how the Dragan Riders dealt with it on a daily basis was enough to keep me reading.
Could you imagine reading the Dark Tower series, (Steven King) if you had to deal with some cliffhanger ending to every other chapter? It is seven books! It would be exhausting! Yet, without those cliffhanger endings, I kept reading because I wanted to know what the Dark Tower held. I wanted to see if Roland caught up with The Man in Black. I even trudged my way through the Wolves of the Calla to get their.
We will ignore the fact that I started the series thinking it it was just a trilogy, only to find out after reading book three I was way off. Oh, and it would take YEARS for Stephen King to finish the series.
That is a lot of words to say, there is a lot of crap out there. But I suppose, if you write a half a dozen crappy books that are part of a series, there is a good chance you will develop enough of an audience to support a video game habit.
It’s great that people with talent have a way to showcase said talents to the masses without the need to pass the scrutiny of the corporate gatekeepers. It’s too bad it happens without those talented individuals needing to put the work in.
You might wonder why I keep reading these books if they are so bad. It’s like watching a train wreck, you know its going to be bad, but just try turning away.