Or: Should I be feeling the shame?
by Thea Atkinson
I’ve been reading a lot of indie fiction lately, and not just because I want to be supportive. I truly have been finding a lot of enjoyable reads…and a lot of what I’d initially call stinkers, too. Meh. That’s OK. I find the same dichotomy in trad published fiction.
Cue 50 Shades of Grey
That doesn’t look so good sitting there written that way, and my inclination is to go back and delete it lest I be judged by my sourness. I think of the early Amanda Hocking stuff I tried out and ending up feeling an incredible rush of shame over my misplaced sense of author superiority. Wow. That many typos? That much bad grammar? Really?
And then I think of my — again — misplaced sense of superiority, my verbal mocking of the writing when I tried to read the Sookie Stackhouse novels. You really don’t want to know the horrible things I said in those first ten minutes of reading my first Charlaine Harris Sookie book.
Did you catch that? That way I said, ‘first’?
You know that means I read more than one, right? Well, I ended up reading–no, gobbling them up like hermit cookies — the entire series of eleven books. Yikes.
Then I went back and picked up another Amanda Hocking book; I wanted to see if I had indeed misjudged her now that she had proper editing and all.
This is where the shame finally kicks in.
I realized I had been giving in to that nasty lime green sense of writer righteousness over someone else’s success while my books languished, unbuyable, in the Amazon jungle. I loathed that quick-to-fire engine in me that is ready to judge another book when I readily admit I’m no Alice Munro or Margaret Laurence or Atwood.
What gives me the right to judge?
Well, I’m a reader too. And my delicate sensibilities can sniff someone else’s exhausted cliché and misplaced mixed metaphor a mile away, and then turn its nose as quickly as my black lab turns up peppermint. (how’s that for jamming in all kinds of mixed metaphor. woot)
When I ended up giving the books good honest reads based on story, I discovered those authors did indeed have that innate telling ability that makes a great author. Hollowland kept me captivated (OK. Forget the pet lion for a second), and Eric makes me drool in the Sookie series. (um. don’t forget any part of that fella.)
These authors can do what I cannot–lure a reader in. Grip the reader. Hold that reader fast. And all that in spite of some juvenile turns of phrase and bad grammar. Now. I say. That’s a writer, baby.
So. Fifty Shades of Grey. I have to admit to opening a Kindle sample. And just as quickly closing it.
Should I feel shame?
I can’t help wondering if I’m missing something. Is there something in there too that as a writer I should be paying attention to? Tell me. If you’ve read it, because I really, really want to know, tell me if I should invest my reading time in another million-dollar-already-franchised sensation book or another deserved, unknown and struggling indie author who is dying for a buy and a read.
Remember the Haystack giveaway. You can win a $50 Amazon Card.
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- Is Your Book Not Selling? Get It Critiqued (theaatkinson.wordpress.com)
- I love your book and other nasty emails (theaatkinson.wordpress.com)
- Charlaine Harris Announces the End of the Sookie Stackhouse Series (readersread.com)