I’m growing a beard right now, and it’s driving me nuts. I hate the stupid thing like the plague it is, but I made a deal to give it a try (otherwise known as “losing a bet”), so I’m stuck a while longer. Of course, now that I have this stupid furry animal attached to my face, I’m beginning to notice just how many people around me are also bearded. Especially at the brewery.
What if “my” brewery is turning into a hotbed hangout for lumberjacks and hipsters? I live in fear.
Wait…holy shit…what would that make me? Great, now I live in even more fear!
Or am I just being a judgmental asshole? Yes, like all guys getting older, I am far more quick to judge and criticize (some things) than ever I used to be. Especially books.
I like to sell to myself that I’m just more discerning and refined*, that I’m better at being choosy. When I was a kid, however, I would read anything you stuck under my nose. Anything. That habit exposed me to some fantastic stuff, but also to some shit that almost burned the eyes out of my face.
*Refined? Really?! I sit here in beat-up cargo shorts and flipflops and talk about being refined?
There are times I really wish I could still be that kid, that I could still accept and enjoy whatever comes my way. I just can’t. To my great chagrin – and in spite of my every effort to the contrary – I grew up. I even understand Shakespeare now, and you have no idea how big an accomplishment that is for me!
When I was young I wrote stories (never shared) about powerful heroes and their inevitable victories. Now I write about a thief and a prostitute. Or, put another way, I once wrote about how people understood and trusted each other…now I write about how much we like to fuck each other over.
Growing up sucks.
In some ways, I want to rediscover that sense of wonder, and that trust in the author of whatever it is I am reading. In other ways, of course, I want the authors to earn that trust. I want characters I can believe and get into. I want settings that make sense, that live and breathe, rather than just ‘film sets’ that are skin deep (if you’ve never been on a film set, it looks nothing in real life like what you see on the screen). And don’t get me started on plot holes – for a character-driven guy like me to get pissed at a plot hole, it has to be roughly big enough to drive the moon through.
Sadly, that ‘growing up’ thing means I see the problems I used to just skip over (I’m looking at you ‘new’ Star Wars movie!). I see all the shortcuts and bad ideas, and even the good ideas never developed or expanded. What especially drives me nuts is when I see authors treating the reader like some idiot child with even less common sense than maturity.
Don’t patronize me. Don’t condescend to me. Just write, and let me connect my own fucking dots! You certainly don’t need to explain every single damn thing in excruciating detail. Your readers are (hopefully) smart enough to make the inferences you want, and see through the subtlety enough to keep up with you. If you treat them like they aren’t, they’re going to get bored and walk away*.
*And yes, I’m writing this post as much to remind me as anyone else!
As a kid I finished every book I started, whether good or bad. Lately, I’ve walked away from more books than I can count. Imagine reading Bonfire of the Vanities and having some random character inserted just to explain all of the satire and social criticism as it was happening. No. Just…no.
That make sense?
Then, for the love of God and the miracle of beer, please stop doing it in your own stories!!