Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing.

A little while back someone whom I follow on Twitter made a few comments about, or linked to and article about, reader guilt. You know, that feeling you get when you come to the realization the book you're currently reading goes beyond your tolerance for bad writing, and you have to decide to stick it out or quietly close it, shelve it, and hope the mocking giggles coming from it one day subside. I know I'm like that. I think I've given up on a grand total of maybe three books in my life, and I have read some really, really bad ones. I mean books that just by existing should legally constitute a criminal act against literature. I won't mention them here, because I'm not quite that callous.

So, yes, I believe it's okay to give up on a book trying to take you beyond endurance, and indeed, I encourage you to know when it's happening . . .

. . . But, I want to look at bad books* from another angle. Therapy. Sometimes the best thing for a writer in the middle of a bad editing slump is to go to the grocery store, pick up a book whose cover screams "I am cheesy and awkwardly-written!", take it home, and read it cover-to-cover. You know what will happen? Well, yes, your brain will eventually congeal into something resembling post-Thanksgiving gravy, but before that your internal editor will begin doing her job automatically. She'll edit like mad. Syntax, bulky sentence structure, passive tense, repetition; she'll sink her teeth into that mess, and as a small voice (or sometimes a righteous bellow) behind your eyes, she'll worry it until she considers it NOT likely to give you a migraine.

And there is this to say about bad books: very few of them have nothing to teach you, even if it is by exemplifying what not to do. Sometimes a predominately bad book has that one shiny feature that--while it doesn't redeem the book as a whole--gives back something for the effort of reading it.

*Although, I should clarify, I don't mean guilty pleasure books when I say 'bad'. I mean books the tech specs of which make you wonder what drug the acquisitions person took when he or she gave the go ahead to publish said volume.

Personal Notes: For some reason, it always makes me sad when a girl with pretty, long hair cuts it drastically shorter. I actually grieve for the loss of other girls' hair. I think it has to do with how slowly my own hair grows, which saddens me, because I love my hair long.

Secondly, Authoress Anonymous gave me a dozen gold stars for impeccable grammar. Which guarantees no less than three grammatical mistakes in this post, I'm sure.


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