I Want A Sticker…

…that says “I Survived A Horrible Book.”

I just finished a book that was essentially a Lifetime movie in book form. Not generally my go-to genre.

But, being stubborn, I was determined to finish it. I’ve only not finished three books in my life. One I have every intention of finishing, I just needed a break because it was dense. One was Wicked which I’ll probably start  up again now that I’m a little older and maybe can power through all the boring Munchkin politics that stopped me up the first time. The third was One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell which I attempted at two separate times and never got further than halfway through before wishing a bomb would blow up the entire apartment building the book was based on to put us all out of our misery. I probably will not be revisiting that one.

This book was free on my Nook (first red flag) and it was about a prostitute, so when I finished a book mid-commute, I decided to give it a try. It can’t be THAT bad, right? Wrong. This main character was like a Season 4 Rachel Berry. Set up to be this independent woman but without any of the makings of an independent woman. It’s fine if your story isn’t about a strong, fearless woman who can take care of herself. Some people aren’t like that. But don’t call her one and then have her be whiny and useless and completely codependent on the guy she fell in love with after knowing him for ten minutes.

But as I said, I’m stubborn. Unwilling to add another book to my haunting “unfinished” list, I journeyed on.

I waded through redundant and annoying phrases like, “It wasn’t long until the two were fast friends.”

I powered through predictably cheesy plotlines and overstated themes.

I resisted the urge to take a shot of rum every time the main character’s uncreative jabs like “shut up” or “you’re a jerk” were met with “I love you, too.” (Mostly because I would have died of alcohol poisoning if I had.)

And even though, at one point, I literally responded to a line that read, ”She felt so stupid for not seeing it sooner” with an out-loud “BECAUSE YOU ARE STUPID AND OF COURSE YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT SOONER BECAUSE IT WAS PRACTICALLY SPELLED OUT FOR US” despite being alone in my room…I finally made it to the end.

When I did finish, I felt triumphant. I was proud of myself. I looked around the train as though I should be clapped on the back and congratulated, but no one was paying attention. Of course. No one else would possibly know the torment I had been enduring (unless they noticed the faces of disgust I had been making at the book now and again) and couldn’t possibly understand how relieved I felt to be free of the suffering.

I’ll admit, there are benefits to making it through a poorly-written book. As I was reading it, despite the horror I was feeling that this book existed, at the same time I couldn’t help but think, “My mother would eat this up.” Because she’s the type of person who cries happy tears when everything works out for the main character of the Lifetime movie (usually a woman who was once down on her luck in life and/or in love) even though it was clear in the first five minutes how the story was going to play out. And that’s fine. It’s just not what I enjoy reading/watching. It’s also not something I want to be writing. Ever.

At one point, when I read that the main character “couldn’t help but” smile/laugh/giggle five times in two pages, I was suddenly struck with the fear that I was reading my book. That this is how I write. That this is how people feel when they read my stories. That thought and fear will be with me, loudly chirping in my ear, next time I work on one of my fiction stories. In fact, it’s even whispering now, asking me if anyone cares about my rants about books. (I told it that no, no one cares, but it’s my blog and not a work of fiction, people know what to expect here.)

As much as I complain every time George R. R. Martin drives a longsword through the heart of a beloved character (and thus, my own), at least I hardly ever see it coming. At least I cared about that person enough in the first place to gasp in shock and re-read the paragraph over to make sure I understood and then read furiously on to see if somehow a person could survive a beheading.

I would much rather have someone read my stories and think, “GOOD LORD WHY IS SHE DOING THIS TO ME!” than “Well, this is rather trite.”

Basically, what I’m saying is, I don’t want anyone to ever read something I wrote – whether it be this blog post, a television recap, a fanfic or an original piece of fiction – and think, “I want a sticker that says ‘I Survived.'”

~ by Valerie Anne on 01/30/2013.

2 Responses to “I Want A Sticker…”

  1. I totally related to this post. I’ve definitely read things before where the whole time I was thinking “This just really isn’t good at all and I wish I didn’t have to suffer through it anymore.” I also know the feeling of hoping nobody thinks those things when they read my writing.

    But at least one good thing came out of reading the book: it helps reinforce in your mind what not to do, so nobody ever will wish for a sticker for surviving your writing. 🙂

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