Ignore this post

Being moderately serious here– I’m not really in the mood that someone reading this might reasonably conclude me to be in, it’s more like I’m writing this to get it out of my system.  Encouragement in comments is not necessary; in fact, feel free to make fun of me for my nonsense if you want.  Also, this is vaguebooking to a degree that actually offends me, as I’m not giving either of the people involved a chance to Google their way to finding this.

So anyway.  Once upon a time I did NaNoWriMo for the first time, and lo, I was successful.  And terribly proud of myself, even though I suspected that the manuscript itself wasn’t good enough for prime time– hey, I’d written a book, which is precisely the awesome feeling that NaNo wants to engender in its participants.  I was buddies with a few other people who were also doing NaNo, and me and one of the other people exchanged manuscripts after we were done.

I have no idea what she did with mine.  She never mentioned it to me again.  I read about half of hers and decided I didn’t deserve that kind of pain any longer and stopped, also never mentioning it again.  We lost touch.  We were online buddies; it happens, right?  No biggie.

I ran into her a few years later in a book group on Facebook.  Turns out she’d managed to both find an agent and a publisher, and her debut novel (not this book, another one) was coming out in the very near future.  Go you!  I bought the book.  I have a policy: if people I know write books, I buy them.  It’s not a policy that comes up a whole hell of a lot, but a policy is a policy.  (Exception is if your book costs a hundred damn dollars.  Sorry, Bill, I love you, but not that much.)

It was fucking terrible.  Her previous manuscript I just couldn’t get through.  This one was awful.  It was so bad that I was literally insisting that other people I know read it (I actually photocopied most of a chapter for the other teachers on my team at one point) to confirm that it wasn’t me being a jealous asshole, but that it really truly was that bad.

Not only was it terrible, it was getting glowing reviews, and I believe even won a couple of actual book awards.  The cognitive dissonance was unmanageable.  I have good taste, goddammit!  I know how to read!  What the fuck are you people thinking?

Well, I found her second book, just released, on the shelf at Barnes and Noble yesterday.  And I read the first couple of pages in the store, and I almost bought the thing, because Jesus Christ it was the exact same shit.  Her writing itself is terrible, waaay before you get to any considerations like characterization and story.  It was unbelievable.

I did calm myself down a bit when I got home and looked the second book up on Amazon, which had several pre-release Vine reviews that all started with “I loved (previous book), but this one is (complain complain complain)” and then gave the book three stars that you felt like someone put a gun to their head to make them award.

I encountered a free book listing on Twitter the other day.  For some reason, it triggered an immediate “Ooh!  Buy!” reaction from me.  I can only assume that the author’s name made me think of someone else, in retrospect, but my first thought was holy shit free book by XXXX and I downloaded it immediately.  Today, amazingly, another book by XXXX became free and I downloaded that one instantly too.

This afternoon, I got around to reading them.  And then got really confused.  They were terrible too.  Now, this first author, she can put a sentence together.  If she wrote a newspaper article or a blog post or hell an email to a colleague you’d never have reason to criticize her.  She just puts on this I’m Doing Litratcher hat when she’s writing fiction that sends everything straight to hell.

This second dude had a two-page foreword to one of his books that spelled the name of the book wrong, in the first sentence of the foreword, and not only that but left a capital letter out.  And that was not atypical of what I saw during the next two or three pages, after which I deleted both of his books from my Kindle and muted his Twitter feed.  THAT bad.  So clearly I was thinking about somebody else.

He has eight books available on Amazon, all of which have multiple five-star reviews.  Most of his books are better reviewed than mine, and the worst-reviewed one has a 3.4 star average, which is not exactly garbage.

And, y’know, at this point, I think I’ll just let you imagine where the rest of this post is going to go, because, again, I’m not really in this mood and I know how reviews on Amazon work and I know how individual tastes work and all that rot.  But… gah.  I kinda wish taste actually was objective, y’know?  Because that way somebody could point at me and either yell “Sucks!” or “Rules!” and one way or another I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.

(Incidentally, GISing the phrase “objectively bad” is hella entertaining.)

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

5 thoughts on “Ignore this post

  1. Maybe I’m just weak, but I can’t ignore a post with a title like this. 🙂 I read through and share your pain when reading some of the horrific stuff that qualifies as publishable material these days. Luckily, I never came in contact with any of those authors or the monster that is my jealousy would surely burst from my chest and go on a rampage through the bookstore. I would have to vent, too. 🙂


  2. I keep running into similar people in my quest for a crit partner or two. Somehow, the other person I keep trying out invariably has the attitude that their work is golden literary and mine is crap, so I would benefit greatly from taking their advice on how to improve my work, but my own comments are often dismissed as being uneducated because I don’t “get” what they’re trying to do. (keep in mind that everyone I’ve tried thus far has pretty much been unpublished)

    On the one hand, I keep telling myself -“You know, they might have a point about XYZ in my manuscript,” even though it hurts like hell to even read some of their comments. So much so that I also find myself thinking “Have you even READ a fantasy novel before? Seriously, have you?”

    On the other hand, I keep thinking -“You made this comment about my work, but HOLY FUCKING SHIT how can you NOT SEE the ginormous gaping hole in your own work to which your own comment needs to be applied to? And how is it that when I point this out as gently as possible, I’m told that I don’t understand what he/she is trying to accomplish?”

    I’ve also thought that “Hey, maybe I’m the asshole here,” but when I try to get someone else’s input on the partner’s work and comments on my own, I get the same response – “Seriously? Did they even READ your manuscript? And I don’t even UNDERSTAND WTF they’re trying to do in theirs.”

    Other than feeling your pain, I’ve got nuthin’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “The cognitive dissonance was unmanageable.” No, I can imagine the cognitive dissonance just fine, having experienced it myself. Some of the things that get perfect review after perfect review… And they’re almost always written so vaguely that you have to wonder if the reviewer ever saw the book in question.

    Taste is subjective; what one person prefers in a story may be the very thing that another wouldn’t read if paid to do so. On the other hand, what ever happened to, I dunno… some semblance of knowing how to f’ing punctuate, maybe? (I’ve been doing a lot of ranting — I mean, blogging — about this recently.) There’s a huge difference between ‘this isn’t my kind of story’ and ‘I couldn’t read it because it was so full of glaring errors.’

    (My clone’s novel recently got a review that was full of praise… and then the reviewer gave it 2 stars. WTF??? Nothing said in the review supported the novel being rated so poorly, but who knows what that person was thinking.)


  4. Our reading group tackled a novel by a very popular author of multiple historical novels. This turned out to be a I-can-get-into-the-head-of-any-famous-historical-character-and-fill-it-full-of-bile-and-sex book. The dates and events are technically correct. She sells millions; why people don’t fall ill in equal numbers reading them, I can’t fathom. There are lots of ways to publish loathsome writing – and people happy to read it.


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