Since I was asked to explain what inspired my last entry, I will.
After a late night chat with Greg, and after reading a recent post by Brent about reviewers, I thought about all the people I’ve talked to about writing and how they inevitably start talking about books they don’t like. I suppose it’s a natural progression, maybe. If you talk to someone who works for a (what do you call it?) roads commission, you’ll probably end up bitching to them about gridlock, or an off-ramp that’s always closed. Perhaps if you’re a policeman people always complain to you about crime. If you’re Dick Cheney—forget it. He deserves everything he gets. Okay, maybe everyone in his circle complains to him about his lesbian daughter.
Anyway, what bothers me is that writing is difficult at best. Greg and I were talking about awards, and how it’s all subjective, and how it’s kind of strange to say one book is better than another. Something he’s recently posted about. Books appeal to many different people on many different levels. There’s a book out there for everyone. I’d say books are like people in that way, but they’re not. Books don’t stiff you with the check, or talk during movies, and they don’t vote Republican, thankfully.
I love to write. The only person who can really make writing a miserable experience for me is me. And maybe my editor. Luckily, I’ve (we’ve) had wonderful editors. Books are my escape. Books are my reality. Books are everything that’s right in my world. It really does pain me a little bit to hear someone say, “That book isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.” (Yes, I’m usually tempted to reply, “Do you mean to say on which it’s printed?”) That statement is false. As I’ve said, there’s a book for everybody. Somebody out there liked that book, even though you didn’t. Somebody thought it was worth printing. Somebody paid the author to write it. I don’t like to hear negativity aimed at my love. Who does?
The more I thought about that kind of harshly critical statement being applied to certain books, the more I realized how it’s similar to people in our government who inflict their belief systems through laws. Is it a stretch? Maybe. But what ever happened to that bigot nutjob in Alabama who wanted to ban queer books from his state’s library system? I’m sure he thinks queer lit isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Yes, he has the right to air that opinion. I respect that. But in turn, he needs to respect that others have the right to enjoy those books. We have the right to write those books. The library has the right to shelve them. There is a purpose for them. He doesn’t have to like those books. He doesn’t have to read them. Please don’t complain about what you don’t have to read.
The only people exempt from my request are copy-editors and editors. An editor is paid to cast a harsh eye on a book and judge it as worthy or not worthy. It’s in their job description, so I can respect that. And copy-editors see our mistakes on a regular basis and have the ability to reveal us as the frauds and idiots that we sometimes are. A reviewer who can’t find something good to say about a book to balance the negative isn’t doing his job, and should be taken to task for writing commentary in the review section. As for everybody else, please try to find something nice to say about a book if you’re talking with me. There had to have been a reason why you bought it, or checked it out from the library, or asked to borrow it from someone. There’s way too much negativity in the world today as it is to dump all over the few good and sacred things in my little corner of the world. If you do, don’t be surprised when I tell you the myriad ways your job and your life is fucking up my universe.