Now that I'm back into my groove of reading again, it's hard for me to imagine that I stopped reading for a number of years -- well not exactly – For nearly a decade I only read “millionaire” books or any other book related to getting paid. Unfortunately, none of it has caused an overflowing of wealth to come upon me, but now that I have the “chase” out of my system, I am happier. I’m doing more of the things that make me happy as opposed to trying to find it external of whom I really am; which brings me to my topic today - reading.
When I picked writing back up, I found I didn’t have a choice but to read other writers. Not because I was lacking ideas or to fulfill any selfish motivations but mainly because reading is a part of the writing creative process. It helps you to see what works and what doesn’t and if you are reading beyond your talent, it gives you something to strive for. So, in the case of writers, reading is fundamental. It seems however, not everyone received that memo. Since my exodus from reading fiction there has been a plethora of writers to come on the scene and I wish I could say that all of them are good, but I can’t. In fact, it seems like someone plastered posters throughout the hood that read “Get Rich Quick, Write a Book.”
Everywhere you look now, people are writing books. The erotica and urban books have just taken on a world of their own. I don’t have a problem with that until I spend my money and realize the person really can’t write. Not that I’m asking them to exhibit the talent of Toni Morrison or anything, but it would be nice to read pages that move beyond the simple. The problem, I find is that some people write, like they talk. I’m not talking about creating a character that has a certain dialect, but what I am talking about is just plain bad sentence structure. Keep in mind, I’m not professing to be the next great literary King, but I do strive to get better each time I take pen to paper. I feel I owe that much to myself as well as the reader. I’ve found that is not the norm. What I’ve found is that writers have sold the craft out in order to make a few dollars and that is sad. One would hope that we as artists have more pride than that.
So, why does this bother me? For several reasons. For one, bad writing further erodes the educational foundation of the reader. Take some of the erotica that is out here – heck, let’s use Zane since she sparked much of what we see today. There are people who actually believe “that” is good writing. I will admit that it’s marketable writing, but it’s far from good. I wish I had some examples to share as to what I mean, but I only stumbled upon her writing because my nephew was reading her. If you were to meet my nephew you would agree that he’s a sweet kid, but eventually you’d realize that he’s not the brightest chap -- but I love him just the same. I’m sure he was reading her for entertainment purposes only. Be that as it may, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I couldn’t believe the grade level of her writing. I mean my 11 year old reads more complex writing than what she offers her readers, but maybe it just comes with the subject matter. I don't really mean that, I'm just offering her an out. The other reason bad writing bothers me is because we as a people are forever associated with those stories. Twenty years from now, people will look back and find that the popular literature of our community was erotica and hood stories -- poorly written I might add. What a sad state of affairs. But it’s our fault.
We are afraid to tell the truth. We think we’ll hurt a person’s feelings if we are honest. I think we do the person an injustice by not being honest. If you have friends that write tell them the truth. You can find a way to say, hey, “You aren’t ready yet.” Telling them the truth makes them get back in there and work out their deficiencies. I’m not saying they have to be perfect, but no one likes to eat an entire half baked cake. If I wanted dough, I would have licked the bowl. That’s why I like blogging. Bloggers will defer leaving a comment as opposed to lying and telling you your stuff is good. I can appreciate that.
I said all of that as a prelude to the following. Next year I’m going to buy a lot of these self published authors that I’ve run across in blog land and on Shelfari and I’m going to give honest commentary regarding their book. So that it’s not too subjective, I will even use examples to support my comments. My commentary will also be tastefully done, but I will not run from telling the truth, so if I recommend someone it won’t be just some passing recommendation. I'm also going to try and come up with a fair grading system, so that I point out both strengths and weaknesses. Until that time...tell me, what’s your take on today’s writers?