Have you ever lost faith with an author? There were two such authors for me. Growing up they truly inspired me. I read their books over and over.
One of them, I found as an adult that she had released a new book within the last decade. I was so excited to read it. Hands trembling with anticipation I began reading. The opening was promising enough, it had her voice and style but as I went on it read more and more like a first draft of a novice writer. Nothing had been edited out. It rambled back and forth with no clear coherency. The dialogue was more people talking after each other than to each other, not to mention that sometimes a single speaker would go on for a page and a half without breaking quotes or having any kind of beats. The ending was so poorly written I laughed out loud. And felt so guilty for doing so. I don't know if the author was getting old and tired, or trading in on her fame by assuming people would buy her stuff no matter what but it was a huge disappointment.
The other author is different. I'm well read enough now to believe she did more than just be influenced or inspired by other people's writing, if you know what I mean. And I just can't feel the same about her. When I went back and tried to reread her work it felt tainted.
Loosing faith with those authors is like killing my childhood. While I have yet to be published I worry that I may let future readers down. You can never please everyone but I would hate to leave people feeling cheated or tainted. I guess we just have to keep writing the best and truest stories we know how and hope that people can see what we see in them.
Sara, to disappoint readers is the greatest crime an author can do.ReplyDelete
This happened to me, too. There was a romance writer I loved as a teen and I discovered she had a new book out a year or so ago. So I read it and it was nothing like her previous book. The voice and style weren't the same as I was used to. I had recently reread her previous books, so I was familiar with her style and voice. And then I read the acknowledgments and discovered she had died. Someone else had finished and edited the book. Well, that explains what happened.ReplyDelete
There have been authors' books I've read and the quality of their books have taken a nose dive at some point. I quit reading them. Both authors were focused on quantity verses quality. And yet another author decided he could a write book with a million points of view and it had no real story to it. I gave up reading it 1/4 the way in. It was too boring to keep going. I used to love his earlier stuff.
So sorry Sara. No it hasn't happened to me. Though some books by my favorite authors I just don't like as much.ReplyDelete
I sometimes think because they are published authors they think they can get anything published because of that. That is sad. You should always do your best on anything with your name on it. People notice and remember. Publishers should remember that, too. Their names are also on those books.ReplyDelete
I do believe we should do our best. I've seen authors that stop trying so hard and it's sad. I just have to remember not to let myself do the same thing.Delete
Some books are different to me now simply because I'm older (for example, there was a time long ago when the dinosaurs roamed the earth that I thought Nancy Drew and The Black Stallion were the cat's pajamas). I remember lapping up Harlequin romances in my teen years, during those long hormonal endless summers. Now I think I'd rather read a postage stamp, but that's just maturity talking. It could be your own tastes have evolved as much as the author's abilities have devolved. Probably a combo deal. In either case, doesn't it suck when it happens?ReplyDelete
I remember reading The Fountainhead for the first time. It was soon after I'd read Catcher in the Rye too, and both books struck home - I so wanted to believe that I was the special person who sat it all, and everyone else in high school was just phonies.ReplyDelete
And then I found out about Rand's personal life, and what a hypocrite she was, and so on. I was so disillusioned. To this day, that's the main thing I think of when I hear about her, my own reactions to her life. Probably unfair of me to judge her like that...
Losing faith can, yes, be disappointing. I try to allow my favorite authors a grace of a book that doesn't appeal to me, but if I'm completely disillusioned, I'll move on to others.ReplyDelete
I've had this experience too. It's jarring, but as Julie said, I try to offer a grace of a book. In the meantime, I continue enjoying the past work that I loved.ReplyDelete
It happens. And it's sad, but, to be fair, our maturity plays a huge part in this reassessment of writers we used to love. I find that now that I know more about the craft, I'm just harder to impress. It goes with the territory.ReplyDelete
Do you think it's possible that our expectations color our experience? If your hands were trembling with anticipation before you began to read, my guess is it's not outside the realm of possibility that even your memory of the author had grown over the years into something that was truly worthy of veneration. Plus, we change over time. The things that were like a buzzy tuning fork ten years ago can't possibly do the same thing for us, now. They were what they were when they were. Later (now) we are different people -- even at the atomic level! -- and we interact with the thoughts of others, their writing, as those different creatures. It's entirely possible that this same author (the first one,) with another work, will sing to you again with something else someday. Maybe not. Things have to be allowed to stand and be what they are in the moment. Memory and expectation, boy. Zingers.ReplyDelete
I do believe expectations color our experiences. I do think it was a greater disappointment because I had anticipated it so much. I am a different person now but I can still read her earlier works and love them. I see craft and structure and characterization there and I know she knows how to do it.Delete
You're right though about just letting things stand. It is what it is.
I haven't had that really happen to me, but I can imagine how much of a 'downer' it would be. Just like anything else you look forward to, if it turns out crappy, it's a huge let down.ReplyDelete
So true, it happens in life a lot. I had a brother that for awhile stopped anticipating anything because he said it never lived up to his expectations. I can't imagine living life that way. I have to enjoy and look forward to things. I guess it's my personality.Delete
I think that your tastes can change as you grow older.ReplyDelete
Added to that is the fact that you now read with a writer's eye, not simply as a reader for entertainment purposes (as you may have done in the past?)
Tastes definitely change as we get older. And I do read different as a writer than I did growing up. But I can still see the craft and worth of her early books that is completely missing in the new one.Delete
There are many times I like one book from an author but not others, but reading is such a personal thing. What speaks to me may not speak to another, and vice versa. I try REALLY hard to remember that about my own writing as well. =)ReplyDelete
I haven't had quite the same experience, Sara, but similar. I have enjoyed a wonderful debut novel by a talented author, only to see her subsequent novel seem like she was "coasting" on her success. The book was still a good read, but not as great as I know it could have been.ReplyDelete
I can't say I would lose faith in the author, but maybe I haven't read anything bad enough yet. If I can't get into a book by one of my favorite authors, I tend to just move on. One of my favorite authors who writes historical fiction wrote a futuristic novel. I didn't care for it much, but I would read other historicals when she writes them. And, yes, I did feel she was trying to imitate market trends with the futuristic novel.ReplyDelete
Thought-provoking post. :)
I have been disappointed in an author once for skirting a subject in their book that screamed to be addressed. I felt as if the author chickened out and went the easy route. But I agree with Michelle. Our tastes do change over time and we don't read the same way once we become writer ourselves.ReplyDelete
Yuck, no fun. I don't think I've been completely let down by an author, but I've been disappointed before... I'll share names if you do ;)ReplyDelete
Sometimes I'm afraid to re-read a book I loved as a child, because I don't want to risk disappointment. You can't ever go back, and there are some book memories I'd rather keep 'untainted' by an adult perspective, if that makes sense.ReplyDelete
Lara, go ahead. Instead of reading it with the eyes of a child, read it as an author looking at another authors craft. You might be amazed. I recently purchased several books in The Black Stallion series that I loved...no worshiped as a child. On a whim I am rereading them. Luckily they still carry the ability to enthrall me. Some stories are like that. And the writing is crisp, clean and well edited.Delete
That's a good point, Debra. I should just meet the book on its own level, rather than the pedestal I put it on as a kid. [g]Delete
The pressure of being an author! I feel I must sit lest I faint dead away.ReplyDelete
I'm at such the opposite end just trying to get my foot in the door, landing an agent, getting published, etc. I was thinking it would be a smooth ride after getting pucblished, you know? Perhaps there is where the REAL pressure starts. "My readers! I must satisty my readers!!"
Good food for thought...
I don't know if an author should put satisfying readers first on the list. It's usually when they do that that the story becomes stale and as if they're trying to do to much. I think an author needs to stay true to the story. However, I do think the author needs to take the time and effort to make it the best story it can be. Not just vomiting words on the paper and expecting the publisher to be able to sell it. Hmmm, this is food for thought. I may make this a blog post.Delete
I know what you mean. I have found myself wondering what happened to them that they fell short of what is generally excellent work. Did their personal life get in the way? But then I remember how much work goes into writing a novel and I'm a little surprised that they let their quality suffer. Or maybe it was outside influences? I'm still not sure. But I do know it's disappointing. Maybe the key is to not put so much faith in someone else's writing.ReplyDelete
" I guess we just have to keep writing the best and truest stories we know how and hope that people can see what we see in them."
Amen to that.
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed that.Delete
I reckon most writers worry about letting readers down - I know I do - but I also think that is the "bad angel" talking. As long as *we* write the best we can, then our best work will be left out on the table (or tablet :)
Stephen King was one for me. I have since come back to him for some isolated reads, but overall I've fallen out of favor.ReplyDelete
It is sad when an author was so inspiring at one time and then dashes all of your faith in them by producing a book that doesn't live up to the rest. I wonder if authors who have produced a series and then move on to another project feel the same pressure to write a book that lives up to their past writing. It has to be tough because their readers automatically will be comparing the new book with the old. Totally scary.ReplyDelete
PS: I'm sorry you were disappointed. I feel you pain!Delete
It is scary, I'm sure each author feels that pressure as they move on to their second, or third books/series.Delete
That is awful...to anticipate something only to have it fall short. With your eyes now wide open, I am sure you will never do this to any of your readers.ReplyDelete
Lol, I hope not, but one can never tell.Delete