I can’t enjoy books anymore.
I know. That’s a shocking statement coming from a bibliophile, especially from an author who WANTS to write books. And I should say that’s not entirely true. I CAN enjoy books…as long as they’re not bad.
Okay, so I’ve said before that I’ve been writing stories since I was like, 4 and reading since before that and one never really interfered in a negative way with the other. In fact, it improved my writing to read and I read a LOT. I wish I could go back to that lovely innocence. The pure white of an unabashed child who loved books simply to enjoy them. But see, I decided to go down the rabbit hole of “professional” writing and the darkness has tainted me. It grew in my head a tumor-like voice that whispers doubt and looks disapprovingly over my shoulder as I hunt and peck my way through my novel. You all know of whom I speak.
That red-headed banshee of an Editor that screeches about deadlines and bad character development and unrealistic dialogue. The one that, in times of no writing, will still murmur in your ear that the scene you wrote is too long and you know you need to edit it right NOW. That adding another side character was a bad idea and to kill him as soon as possible.
Well I’ve grown used to these seductive nay-saying mutterings. I’ve learned that plowing through a paragraph or a chapter regardless of the voice is much like Novocaine for the banshee Editor: it numbs her so she can’t speak. It makes me deaf and cold all over so I can’t be distracted except maybe by spelling errors or badly worded sentences. Wonder or wonders I thought I’d beaten her!
She came at me from left field, sneaky like a fox stalking a helpless bunny. Clever minx. She followed me to my den of sanctuary where I can turn off my writing brain and switch on my reading brain. I pick up a book at random and start to read….and like a fly landing on my arm, I feel a tickle. I wiggle my elbow to brush it off and it goes away. read a few more lines. And it comes back, now more like a beetle. More noticeable and equally as annoying. This continues all the way until chapter two until I feel the pressure of an imminent scream coming on and I cringe in anticipation. And then, like word vomit, it comes out in a stream of negativity from my lips:
WHAT IS THIS PIECE OF CRAP? YOU CALL THIS A “STRONG” HEROINE?! ALL SHE DOES IS TALK ABOUT THIS NEW HOT GUY SHE JUST MET AND IS SPILLING HER GUTS OUT TO. OH YES, THERE IT IS….HE’S HER SOULMATE. AND WAIT! WHERE’S THE THIRD POINT FOR THE LOVE TRIANGLE? AHHHH….HERE HE IS. POOR CHAP HAS NO CHANCE AGAINST THAT BADLY WORDED SAPPY DIALOGUE. lET’S SEE, THAT ENTIRE CHAPTER WAS USELESS AND DIDN’T DRIVE THE PLOT FORWARD AT ALL AND THAT PERSON IS ENTIRELY TOO PERFECT. WHERE’S HIS FLAWS? MY GAWD I HOPE JESSICA DOESN’T WRITE DRIVEL LIKE THIS OR SHE’LL NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT FROM ME…
oh. my. god.
I can’t even enjoy books for fun now! I’ve heard of the writer/reader brain developing, where one can’t help but edit novels silently in their head. But I never expected this violent outpouring of criticism >_< This happened to me three books in a row. I grappled to say something good about them to redeem a smidgen of my soul. All I got was:
“At least he portrayed a spoiled 15-year-old girl accurately; crying, whining, bitching and all.”
Or something to that effect. One MEASLY little bone for a 300 page book someone toiled and cried and sweat over. And all I can think of was HOW DID THIS GET PUBLISHED? I’m at the point now where I live in fear of reading any book, even the ones I liked previously like The Abhorsen trilogy and Percy Jackson. I’m scared the red-headed screaming banshee will taint my beloved books and the tumor in my head will grow into cancer.
Please, someone, tells me this gets better! If I don’t have books I’ll go insane in the membrane.