Friday, September 25, 2009

Reading recommendations and disappointment, or the perils of being a writer

I just finished reading a book by an author recommended to me by a friend. (No, I won't identify the book or the author, because this isn't a review blog and my critique of this particular book isn't the point anyway.) Well, I thought it was mediocre, at best. The writing was clumsy, the language repetitive, the POV shifted continuously, and the plot jumped. If it were a film, it would feel like someone had cut frames out all over the story and then pieced the narrative back together. In addition to heavy handed plotting, the characters were 2 dimensional.

Yet it's a book that many have read and rave about. And I can see the appeal, despite the obvious flaws. After all, I did stay up late to finish the story, so the author did something right.

Perhaps once upon a time, I would have just read this book and enjoyed the story the writer was spinning. But then I started to write and hone my craft.

Now it is virtually impossible for me to simply read for pleasure. I notice craft and lack of craft. Repetitive language is tedious to read. Awkward turns of phrases pull me from the story as does characters moving through plot for the author's purpose rather than their own.

Part of me misses the time when I could just fall into the pages of a book and lose myself completely and utterly, erasing the boundary between my life and the life of the story. I don't get that simply from reading anymore. But I do get it when I am writing.

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