Posts Tagged ‘reading’
Lately I’ve been struggling with something that bothers me more than I care to admit. It’s something that goes so deeply into the core of who I am, that the thought of changing it at all terrifies me. It’s my love of reading. I have always loved to read, from the day I learned how. I can’t remember a time in my life that books didn’t play such an important role that I often chose them over real people. That is, until about a year ago, when my writing really started to take off and I was presented with a little thing called deadlines. My reading has been woefully inadequate of late. But what do you do? I’ll tell you what I did. I started setting time aside for reading. Making goals that if reached, allowed me to read a book before trying to write something else, and that’s when the real terror set in.
Though I have always been a writer, I haven’t always dealt with editors. This is something new and unusual for me. And painful. Holy cats is it painful! This isn’t going to be a rant about my LOVE/HATE relationship with editors, but more a voicing of my concern over how that relationship has changed me as a reader. I have always been a very forgiving reader. A few typos might catch my eye, but I wasn’t one to reflect on how much passive voice a writer chose to use, or if their characters were unrealistic, cliche or every other thing editors like to say. I think most readers out there are the same. The only people who actually care about these things are editors, book reviewers and those assholes on Amazon that can’t just say whether they liked a book or not, but have to throw all kinds of high brow terminology into the review and act superior to every other reader on the planet. You know who you are. If you are reading this, I just want to tell you that you are a pretentious asshole and we see through you! Good Day, Sir!
Sorry about that, but that guy really torques my bisquick! (Yeah, I don’t know what it means either, but my friend Axel said it once and I liked it!) So here’s my problem. After spending the last year-year and a half with editors, I am beginning to lose my enjoyment of the reading process. Suddenly I find myself picking apart stories, noticing flaws in the pacing, passive voice and other things that I like to call “soft writing” when I find myself doing them. And you know what? It really scares me. A story has to be really great to keep me from noticing the errors. Am I becoming one of these people? I don’t want to. Is this just a phase for me? I guess only time will tell, but I hope so. Maybe I need to practice meditation, or yoga, or voodoo magic before I pick up a book. Anything to teach me how to keep my own inner editor from ripping apart the work of others. I want to love to read again. The alternative is too scary.
When I was a kid, there were only genres. Sci-Fi, Fantasy, HORROR, well, I didn’t really care about the other genres. There were even horror sections in most major bookstores. It was easy to find the book I wanted. Sometimes I would have to slip over to the Sci-Fi section to find something almost horror that I hadn’t yet read, but mostly, life was good. Then the horror sections disappeared, seemingly overnight. My precious horror was now scattered (alpabetically by author) amongst all the other fiction books. Gasp! What used to take only minutes to find a suitable read, now become an impossible game of hide and seek, sometimes taking hours to find a single book. Sure, you could still find King and Koontz fairly easily, but what about new authors? Unless the cover virtually screamed horror, I would pass so many up, unaware of the unique gems that I was missing. WHY! I would scream (though only in my head, because screaming aloud in bookstores is not only frowned upon, they will kick you out). Why would you so complicate my literary life? Why? Let me tell you why, because people in their infinite quest to overcomplicate and overcompartmentalize (and in my opinion, just plain fuck up) systems that were otherwise working fine, decided that plain old genres just weren’t enough. We had to further break down the categories into sub-genres. We no longer read just horror my friends, we now read sub-genres such as Dark Fantasy, Extreme Horror, Splatterpunk, Slipstream, Weird Tales, Steampunk (what IS steampunk anyway!), Bizarro, Vampire, Zombie and many more. And to further complicate things, these sub-genres can be written in a myriad of styles such as Absurdist, Dark, Pulp, Minimalist, Realist and even Surrealist, just to name a few. Don’t even get me started on themes! Is it any real wonder that sometimes the horror gets lost in all this categorization? Anyone who has ever used a site like Duotrope to find a market for their stories, can tell you that it’s at least a half an hour of figuring what your story is before you can even figure out where to send it! Why?!! Is it really that important? Have we become such purists that we can only enjoy one very specific form of horror? I think not. When people find out that I’m a published writer, the first thing they always ask is “What do you write?” Well, I write short stories right now. “But what kind of stories do you write?” Ah! I got ya, I write horror stories. That’s it. No one has ever asked me if I write Gothic or Bizarro or the elusive Steampunk (I really don’t get this one). Horror is enough. I’m sure some of my stories would fit into most all of these sub-genres if I took the time to figure out where to place them. I don’t. They are horror, my first and only true story love. So please, read my stories. Enjoy them! But do not try to categorize me and squeeze me into some tiny box named NICHE. After all, I am claustrophobic, and tight places scare me to death…
Have a short story you want a market for? Check out http://www.duotrope.com/index.aspx It’s a valuable resource for the beginning writer, if you can get used to the tiny boxes!
I think that the scary things, the truly scary things in this world, are those that have the power to both terrify and tantalize us at the same time. That said, I want to discuss the one thing that petrifies me the most—E-Readers! As a true bibliophile,I love everything about books. The smell, the feel, the look of all those wonderful tomes on my shelf is enough to send me into a state of absolute bliss. The thought of a world without books terrifies me more than all of the vampires, werewolves and zombies (even those new ones, the quick bastards in Romero’s remakes) ever could! Imagine my immense horror at the realization that I kind of wanted an e-reader!How I despised myself! I spent many months in a state of agonizing conflict with myself, until this last Christmas, when my beloved decided for me. I would have an e-reader, and he would buy it for me. Of course, I could never refuse such an expensive gift, not that half of me wanted to, but the other half was raving that I was destroying the publishing industry! I, myself, was the enemy. I actually cried when I saw it, so conflicted by my desire to protect my beloved books and my all out excitement to try out this new little gadget. I’ve owned my new Nook Color for a few months now, and I must say, I love it! The ability to download titles at will and the convenience of reading them immediately is quite satisfying. I refuse to read any of my favorite authors or series on the thing, I will go out and buy the actual books in those cases, but the e-format has allowed me a much broader selection than my local bookstore. In a very short time, I have discovered many new horror authors that I really like and I am able to download individual short stories as well, rather than fork out the money for a whole novel by some talentless hack! I have to say, that I begrudgingly admit the e-reader has the power to expand emerging author’s exposure, getting their name out to the public much more efficiently than the old print standby. Also, authors receive a larger percent of the profits from e-books than they do from print since there is no manufacturing cost and little overhead. I now live with a careful compromise in my reading habits-I still adore my books more than anything (with the exception of my children—most days!) but when trying a new author, or just bumming around for something to read, my Nook is fantastic! Change is scary. Maybe, just maybe, if we embrace all the things that scare us, they will lose their power to frighten. God I hope not!!!