Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sometimes It's Just a Book

After only a little time in the business, writers, of necessity, acquire a critical eye. We learn how things should be done (and I absolutely, completely agree with MaryAnn on this), we pore over our manuscripts, scrubbing and polishing, and we critique others' works.

These are all excellent things. They teach us our craft and move us forward in our abilities.

I learned a little something, though, coming back from my vacation.

You see, for part of the drive, we listened to a book on audio tape. It was competently written, but not exceptional. I could have picked it apart, in fact, I did at the start. But then I heard my kids in the back seat - or, I didn't hear them - no fighting, no complaining, just snickers and snorts and hoots. My husband joined in. And I found myself forgetting the minutiae of the craft and enjoying the ride.

I realized as I pulled the last CD from the player at the end of that outrageous tale that sometimes it's okay if a book is just a book.
Sometimes it's fine to take off the critiquer's hat.
In fact, I think it's a healthy, necessary part of writing.

Which brings me to zombies.

My son, like me, has picked up a voracious appetite for reading (thank you Summer Teen Reading Program and your many fabulous prizes!)
My son, unlike me, loves zombies. (He's also picked up the writing bug and is 95 pages into the most epic zombie adventure story ever - way to go, son!)

He bought this book for the trip, Dead Reckoning, and at first I hardly paid attention to it until I noticed it was glued to his face pretty much constantly. Then I noticed it was by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill.


When he put it down to get a snack, I picked it up.

Zombie Steampunk Western? 

Oh, yeah, baby!

Soon there were two bookmarks in the pages and we were coming up with ways to snitch it from each other. His favorite sarcastic phrase during our trip, "Really, Mom?"

I could say it's a straightforward tale. I could say it has more than a few cliches. I could say... I could say...

But I won't. Because me, the person, loved it. And me, the mom, loved that my son loved it.

And that's why sometimes it's okay to let go and just let a book be a book.


  1. I agree. I think, sometimes, we take writing too seriously. Books have a purpose, and they don't need to be perfect in order to fulfill that purpose.

    Love it!

  2. I'm not usually a fan of zombies, but I just couldn't resist giving that one a try. It has two holds on it at the library, and then I'm going to give it a try.

    Great post, Susan!

  3. I agree completely. Really it all comes down to enjoyment, and I can enjoy movies, TV shows, and books with lots and lots of flaws. It is all about getting involved in the story, and that really is the main goal.

    I try to write the best story that I can, but I know in the end, it will be flawed, and if anyone really wanted to tear it to shreds they could. I'm just hoping that some people will enjoy the story too much to notice. :)

    Great Post!

  4. I'm not a fan of zombies or westerns. For Mercedes Lackey, I might have to make an exception. (I'm also a HUGE fan of steampunk, so that doesn't hurt.)

    I have several authors that I read for no other reason than I enjoy them, and I would fiercely defend them against critics should the need ever arise. Carla Kelly is on the top of the list. (Borrowed Light, Enduring Light and Marian's Christmas Wish all fall in the top five, easily. I think Diana Wynne Jones takes the number one slot with Howl's Moving Castle, though.)

    I don't see any reason reading can't be "just for fun." There wouldn't be nearly as many in the world if they all had to teach a lesson or hit upon some cosmic truth. I wouldn't stand a chance of being published, that's for sure.

    Great post Susan!


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