vanna, spin me a letter

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.

About timothyjlambert

Timothy J. Lambert is allegedly a writer.
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14 Responses to vanna, spin me a letter

  1. I know it’s no shock that I totally get what you’re saying. When I was really young (you know, just a few years ago), I first related this to music. When people would say some artist sucked, I’d think, But just being signed and making a record and selling it and having people like it is AMAZING and an accomplishment. So I never liked it when musicians/singers/whatever slammed other musicians.

    And now, I can’t do it to other writers. I will critique fiction with other writers and sometimes with friends, but I’ll never publicly belittle another writer or her or his work. I just can’t.

    Everything is not to my taste, of course, but until I’m queen of the universe (hey, it could happen), my taste is just my taste and hardly sets the standard. But I think I’ve ranted about this on my own LJ and don’t mean to hijack yours.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes!

    That’s the truth. There wouldn’t be all of the different genres of subjects if we all liked the same thing. It also helps a person to open their mind to other possibilities. When people say they don’t like a book, or musician, rarely is there a tangible reason and maybe there doesn’t have to be, there is some good in everything. You don’t have to listen, you don’t have to read. Put it down and shut it off. Opinions are like butts, everyone’s got one. I agree wholeheartedly!
    Julie
    a writing fanatic

  3. Anonymous says:

    You know, the funny thing is, my first instinct is always to talk about the books I *love*….

    Jeffrey dba Gatsby’s Ghost

  4. rhondarubin says:

    I’ve heard songs I don’t personally like, and I realize a lot of other people do like them. Hey, even William Hung sold a few CDs. Someone can record (or write) anything, and at least one person will want it and like it. Art and literature are subjective.

    I rarely mention books I don’t like. Mostly because I tend not to finish books I don’t like or just plain don’t get. So when discussing those books with people who liked or recommended them, I usually say something like, “I couldn’t get through it. What did you enjoy about it?”

    I kind of do the same thing with Lindsey’s art. I know absolutely nothing of art or how to interpret it. My impressions are usually elementary and along the lines of “Ooooh, pretty colors!” So, when I look at her paintings, I ask her about them, starting with the title. I try to get a feel for what she was thinking when she painted them.

    My basic thought process in each of these cases is that maybe I’m missing something, so I should see what others got out of the book, or what the artist was thinking or feeling when she created the painting.

  5. marikanola says:

    Oh Tim I beg to differ, some books would definitely vote Republican. “Those Who Trespass” Would definitely vote Republican.

    I kinda like “bad” books. When I find one I share passages, and do dramatic interpretations of them for my co-workers. Everything book has it’s own pleasure – some you just have to look for. I think they are kinda like movies, maybe they all can be enjoyed if you watch it with the right person.

    • Books can be enjoyed with the right person, too. I think being read to in bed is hot. As long as my parents aren’t reading to me, that is.

      • smoness says:

        Last month when Rhonda and I were really sick I read to her while she was in the tub. It would’ve been sexier if we weren’t both running fevers.

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