After my last post briefly explored the subject of why we read certain books even though they may not be written with the highest standards of writing excellence, I read Sara Walpert Foster's blog post this week and had a few more thoughts about the subject. I fear this will this raise more controversy.
First of all let me say this subject raised a lot of strong emotions on both sides of the issue—to read or not to read books by writers if said books are not written well. After reading Sara’s post, the question came up again with a few possible answers. You should read Sara’s post and then come back—or vice versa, I’m flexible.
What makes us read something we know is not the best work but feeds something in us that we crave. For every reader it will be something different, because we are all different. One person cannot dictate what another person should or shouldn’t read or not read. The gate keepers are not in control of the books out there any more, and in some ways this is a good thing. (I heard that scream, wait. . .)
Not all writers are good with craft and mechanics, but they have ideas that need to be expressed. Not all readers are willing to read those ideas unless they are packaged better (in good craft and mechanics). We are all different. Some of us want beautifully written books (the ideal).
Some of us want to explore new ideas, ideas that we might be struggling with, or have resisted and want to consider even at the expense of good quality writing. Or maybe feed the prurient side of us that we haven't fully explored. There are as many reasons for reading as there are for writing. Not all readers are good readers. Not all writers are good writers. But one thing is for sure, the doors have been thrown open for everyone to find what they need.
One thing I do believe, no one takes away from you because of what they put out. If a writer puts out a work of crapola, it doesn’t take any readers away from your well written work that you’ve lovingly labored over and perfected. I don't think it lowers the standards; it only enlarges the reader base. Something for everyone. Better a reader read crap then not read at all-my philosophy. Some will vehemently disagree. (I can already hear the rumblings and see the fists shaking.)
When I was a teenager there were confession magazines, not your top of the line reading matter, that emphasized emotional garbage. In an effort to get me to read, my mother encouraged me to read whatever I wanted--just read. She knew that I would grow tired of the emotional roller coaster of the salacious confession magazines and finally find better reading material. That advice was right for me.
But do you think this is a good idea for everyone? I’d like to hear your opinion, you might change mine.