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There has been some discussion on LJ recently about the speed at which books are written, or the speed at which one expects books to be written, and the question of professionalism and quality with regards to writing speed.

So I thought I'd have a little rant about that. Because it's the internet, and I can :D.

Speaking as a reader, I don't care how long it took you to write your book. I have your book in hand, I read it, I either love it or I don't love it, and while I'm reading it, I could not care less how long it took you to write it.

I couldn't care less whether or not you wrote it standing on your head and eating marmite.

I only care about what I have in my hands, a cover wrapped in some form around words on the page (because I'm a luddite and I really don't enjoy reading fiction on the machine at which I'm shackled when I do work as a way of relaxing). I am a greedy reader, yes, and if I loved your book beyond all reason I will rush out and try to find more books -- but I don't actually care if you wrote those books ten years ago. I don't care what you did to self-promote them. I don't care what you did to get an agent, or what your agent offered you in the way of advice. I don't care what you did to get them published. I may cringe at the cover, but that's so out of your hands, that I can reasonably say I don't care about the cover with regards to you, the author.

There are authors I enjoy who seem to put out four books a year. There are authors I enjoy who cannot manage to put out one book a year. I don't have a calendar in hand, and the only thing that matters is when the book is in said hands, I can read it. Did I cry when Patrick Rothfuss announced that his book would be delayed? Maybe. Do I look longingly at the Connie Willis books on our store shelves and pine at a distance because there are no new ones? Maybe. Do I hold this against the authors in any way? No. I want the books they write, and I am overjoyed when I get them. I don't immediately think they are grossly unprofessional because I do not get them quickly.

I also have no way of knowing, while I am deep in the throes of book-love, which authors are making a living at writing, and which ones aren't -- because it doesn't matter to me as a reader. The books were written, the books were published, and the books were devoured by my little avaricious reader-self. The rest of the attendant clutter is kibble.

I understand that making a living can necessitate a number of things, for writers, and all of these things are of import--to them. I understand that these are amazingly intense concerns, because I have them as well. I even wibble about them here, from time to time, because it's my LJ and they're on my mind.

But confusing my concerns as a writer with my concerns as a reader is something that I don't do. There are books that feel interchangeable, and I read these for fun and light entertainment, although I admit I often confuse them in the muddle of my brain (and attribute the titles to the wrong authors because I am sometimes stupid like that); there are books that no one but the author could possibly write (anything by John Crowley comes to mind instantly). I am happy for both; I do not privilege one over the other because I don't have to; as a reader, both are there, and I pick up the one that suits my mood and my needs at the time.

And as a reader, what I want from the authors I read is that they write their books. Telling other authors how to write their books is not actually something that is relevant to me as a reader, and I am the end consumer in a chain.


Apr. 13th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
Anyway, I'm probably way off topic here and way, way too wordy besides. But your post just struck something in my and I couldn't keep my big yap shut.

Not too wordy, given the particular LJ (I could hardly accuse anyone else of being too wordy with a straight face). The pacing question is always an interesting one, for me; I can read books that most people consider glacial and plotless because to me everything that occurs on the page is enormously interesting. Because of this quirk, I'm aware that I don't entirely understand what pacing means to other people.

But with the CAST novels, I play with pacing, among other things.
Apr. 14th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC)
Pacing doesn't, to me at least, necessarily mean that the book has to move at a speedy, rapid pace. But the reading of it should go pretty smoothly. There's an author I read who has uneven pacing, in that there are sections where it's like slogging through sucking mud in flipflops that you really don't want to lose in sections, followed by sections that suck me in so thoroughly and are paced so well that I'm through them before I know it and back into the bog. Ironically, both these sections probably take physically as much time to read once I sit down to read. But it takes me longer to read the slogging bits because it becomes infinitely possible for me to put the book down and find other stuff to do. Despite the uneven pacing, I can't wait to read the next one.

Good pacing to me can even be a slow, deliberate book (George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice books are pretty darn deliberate - and enormously complicated so they require a lot of hard thinking while I'm reading them), but I still hate putting it down, and I can't wait to pick it back up.

I suppose, really, it's a pretty amorphous concept. I should never start thinking about these things this late at night!

Edited at 2008-04-14 06:03 am (UTC)