I started skimming titles.
“Okay, I’m done.”
I looked at my watch. “You’ve been gone a whole two minutes.”
“Yeah.” And he waved a book at me because, duh, couldn’t I see he was holding a book.
“Well, go get another book. After all, one book isn’t going to do you for the whole summer.” And there was a buy three books get the fourth one free promotion happening. Perfect. Two books for each of us.
Déjà vu with the whole two minutes later thing. “Done. Are you ready to go, yet?”
“Fine.” Since I’ve yet to win the lottery I wasn’t going to send him back for another one, so I grabbed two books written by new-to-me authors and brought them home.
Is this a good time to interject with how much I enjoyed reading before I started learning the craft of writing? Because, holy crap, the beginning of each book was a huge disappointment. Seriously.
In fact, by the end of the first couple of chapters of each I was searching the spines for the names of the publisher because, obviously, they weren’t that picky. Disgusted and tallying the cost of taking my teenage son to the bookstore, I started a never to be read pile.
Then I came across this blog post written by Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. In it she talks about story, craft and voice.
When you read published books that don’t seem to “follow the rules” of craft that you’ve worked so hard to learn, instead of getting mad and throwing the book across the room, try to determine if maybe that book got published because of the story, rather than technical perfection. Ask yourself whether the author has a pleasing or compelling voice that makes you want to read, despite technical imperfection.
Okay. That got me thinking. And brought me down to earth. Who I was I to say whether a book was technically proficient or not, anyway? But the story? That I felt able to evaluate. Time to be a reader instead of a writer.
In the end I learned a few things:
1. Do not expect to leisurely pick out books when you’ve brought a male along.
2. Learning your craft is important. Writing well is important. Striving for perfection is important. But don’t stutter over the mechanics and let it hijack your story. Use your craft to enhance an already great story.
3. It’s possible to simply enjoy a book without analyzing it to death, to enjoy being a reader.
Has writing made you view reading differently? Would you consider finishing a book you considered weak on craft but had great story potential? What’s on your TBR summer pile?