Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Perfect Novel?

There is no such thing as a perfect book and the more you work to make a book perfect, the more you turn it into a polished stone with no character or voice. Leave your book rough, leave your voice alone, mail the book to an editor or indie publish the book and do another.
There is no perfect book. Never has been, never will be. And you certainly won’t write the first one. Sorry.

The immortal words of Dean Wesley Smith.  I hear from so many corners that one needs to spend an inordinate amount of time on editing, re-editing, checking for continuity, grammar, grammar, grammar, spelling, etc. before your book is ready for publishing.  The interesting (or perhaps funny) thing is:  I can find any "normally" published book that has errors of one sort or another in it.  By normal, I mean traditionally published by a print publisher, not having the author self-publish.

Why is this the case?  Why do people feel the need to harp so much on the supposed need to spend all this time reviewing and editing your novel?  I'm really not sure, but I'm getting more than a little peeved about it.  Look, I'm going to do the best that I can, and that's all I can do.  That's all that you can do.  That's all that anyone can do.  There is no perfect book, but there sure are a lot of popular books.

I've heard plenty of people bemoaning the fact the Stephanie Meyers books are so popular.  Why are they making a big stink about it?  Well, supposedly it's "bad writing".  Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't (I haven't read them, so I have no opinion).  But if people are happy with it, and are choosing to spend the money to purchase the books, why should anyone care?  From what I can tell, it's because they think that she's somehow "dumbing down" the profession of author.  I get the impression that they somehow try to outdo each other in lifting their noses higher than the next person; a sort of snooty contest, in other words.

People are also picking on John Locke and his success.  I've actually read a chapter or two of one of his more recent titles, and I've got to say, while it might not be my most favorite series, I can easily see where people love it.  It's a great escape, full of larger-than-life characters and situations.  I should be so fortunate to be just a quarter as successful as he is.

Every published writer has to go through the stage of the "first novel".  It won't be perfect, the characters might be a tad two dimensional, the story line might be a little thin or contrived.  But the fact is, they've accomplished something that the vast, vast majority of people in this world will never do:  they've written a full novel.  These first-time novelists will continue to learn and hone the craft, but that doesn't mean that they will never have an error here or there.  Many people find James Patterson (among many others) and his writing pretty bland, but that doesn't stop him from selling tons of copies.  From what I can see, those people who are finding fault with all of these bad novels and stories that are out there probably are jealous.  They are jealous of the fact that someone finished a novel, they are jealous of the fact that someone else thought it was entertaining, they are jealous that they are enjoying some modicum of success, both personally and professionally.

Get over it!  You can't control what others do, so why are you complaining about it?  Are you hoping that someone will do something, that they will stop all of these "non-authors" from putting out their works?  I actually saw someone propose (jokingly, I'm sure, but I bet there's a bit of hope from them that it happens) that there should be a law against people putting out crap.  REALLY?!  Wow...just, wow.

To those that wish the crap would just stop, I say - shut up and work on your own shit!  To those that feel that they need to keep editing and re-editing, I say - do what you can (take pride in what you are doing, and do it right), and then put it out there, imperfections and all, and get working on the next story or novel.