I love reading. I’ve been tracking what I’ve read this year, writing down each author and title starting with the first day of spring. Why start in March? I’m not sure. I suppose it’s because everyone else makes their resolutions at the beginning of the year, when they’re too busy to actually commit. March seemed like a quieter time to make a resolution to read at least 50 books in a year. That seemed like a reasonable amount. That’s only a book a week. I’m not taking into consideration the length of the stories, so some have been shorter than others. So far, I’m at 27 books.
One of the things I’ve discovered on my reading adventures, is the affect reading has on my own writing. I’ve been trying to read a variety of stories. Some writers are amazing. I read their stories and I’m transported into the world they’ve created. I read their work, and I’m reminded to try to remember all five senses when describing a scene. It’s not always easy. I like dialog driven stories, but I know that they can feel shallow if there’s nothing else there. I read a short story last year that was nothing but good dialog and no descriptions at all, not one shred of description, nothing. It was different and a little experimental. I suppose it was the story equivalent of junk food, reader’s cotton candy, something to be enjoyed for what it is, but not something I would want to make a meal out of. I was able to learn from this. I’ve also read the opposite of this spectrum, pages and pages of description, down to the buttons on a man’s shirt. Stories like this are like a 7 course meal. I’ve had fancy dinners, but I don’t eat this way everyday. It’s a special occasion sort of thing. Most stories I’ve enjoyed, fall somewhere in the middle.
Today I finished reading a book that was terribly disappointing. It doesn’t matter what the title is. This isn’t about author bashing. I know the writer must have gone though a lot of struggles, because the beginning was so wonderfully written. I don’t think I had ever read a story quite like this one in my preferred genre. Unfortunately, it was the ending that I found to be the problem. I had the impression that the author just wanted to finish the story so they could go onto something else. The ending was full of typos and formatting issues. The villain died much too easily based on the parameters the author had set. I was beyond frustrated. I felt betrayed.
I could relate to the author, even though I was upset at what that person did to their story. This is what I’m currently struggling with. I don’t want to do this to my characters. I know there comes a point where you need to call a book done. I’m very close to this point, but I’m not quite ready. I feel like my ending needs more work. It’s too short. I can’t expect everything to wrap up as fast as I originally wrote it. Life doesn’t have clean easy solutions. Life is messy and complicated. Vampires are NOT “fluffy bunnies.”
Reading bad writing, makes me feel inspired, but also fearful. Writing is SUCH a subjective thing. I know what I like to read and what I don’t like to read. When I read something that’s badly written, it brings up the same twinge I get when I see bad parenting. No one WANTS to be a bad parent just as no author WANTS to make their readers throw their book against the wall. But like bad parenting, I think sometimes we learn more from mistakes than anything else.
I make mistakes in all aspects of my life everyday. I suppose all I can hope for is the wisdom to learn what I can from both my own mistakes, and those of others.