Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Lost Art of Consistency

I'm terrible at being consistent.  I'm one of those "put the fires out as they light" kind of people, which means I'm usually running in several directions at any given time with no idea what I'm going to do when I get there.  I am not the person you want to ask to plan a large event.  I'll show up ten minutes before the party starts with a couple of pizzas, some two liters of soda, a cake that says "Happy Birthday Ethel", and a mass text message to everyone I know asking them if they want to stop by for Bobby's birthday party.  I am the definition of "phoning it in."

But it kind of makes me mad when some of my favorite authors do the same thing.

Recently I've read several books by authors I rely on, and they've been, well, pretty lame.  And when I say "lame" I don't mean that I've read them in one sitting only to find the world's worst cliffhanger (although that also irks).  No, I mean the book has sat on a shelf half-read for over a month because either the writing, the characters, or the storyline are so boring that I start to nod off every time I read a page.  It's a tragedy, and I want it to stop.

One of the reasons I get an author's follow up is because I feel like I can depend on it to be good.  That's the covenant of repeat business.  You give me a good product, I will continue to buy said product.  No one wants to plunk down twenty bucks for a "meh" book, and one of the reasons people don't try new authors (not me, I love debuts) is because they are spending money on an old favorite.  But what do you do when the old favorite disappoints?  To me, it's actually more irritating than when a debut isn't the greatest, because there's an expectation of something there that never develops.  With a debut, there's no expectation, or at least not as strong of one.

It's depressing when I have a book with a bookmark gathering dust.

Does it bother you when a favorite author's book doesn't move you?  More importantly, do you continue to buy their books, or find something else to read?


Anonymous said...

It doesn't bother me so much - but then, I'm one of those odd ducks who typically reads books at the library first and then buys them afterwards, either for my own personal library or for someone else. In any case, I still end up with way more books in my house than I know what to do with.

But I can't think of a single writer that I dig who *hasn't* put out a clunker or two. I love Terry Pratchett with all that is good and holy, but he's put out some books over the years that were one hot mess. Or a mess of messes. I love Nick Hornby but I thought that HOW TO BE GOOD was utter garbage. And I love Louise Erdrich, but FOUR SOULS was kind of a snore.

No one bats 1000. We don't expect it from baseball players, so we certainly should't expect it from writers.

Cholisose said...

It's tough to break into the writing field, and perhaps just as tough to keep bringing out quality novels at a consistent rate. But that is the job of an author! Unfortunately all of our tastes are different, and there will likely always be at least one book we don't care about by a beloved author.

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