Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What is the baggage allowance these days?

... and I don't mean on easyJet either. I'm talking about that other well-known budget airline, LesFic.

How many more books are going to be written where the main character is beside herself with grief, suffering not just from the death of her soul-mate either from (a) a hit and run, (b) an illness that struck without warning or (c) a murderer.

I'm not saying for one second that anyone who has gone through tragedy of this magnitude wouldn't be beside themselves with grief but why does nearly every book I read have to be about a character who, because of their loss, has pushed everyone else out of their lives and who is then dragged back to life by a similarly damaged individual who just happens to be the one 'who's eyes can see into her soul' and who she falls head over heels in love with, normally in the space of a weekend, sometimes a bit less?

I understand baggage - we all have it. The difference is, most people I know have learned to live with it, we all have baggage, but baggage of this enormity? If the world of lesfic is to be believed then half of the world's lesbians have died a tragic death before the age of 30, but thankfully not before they met the love of their lives. Sigh. Such is the life of a lesfic lesbian - short but perfect.

It's heartbreaking before it even gets to the heartbreaking part of the story - you know the bit, where the heartbroken girl, who is just starting to live again, can't stand the guilt that she believes will be imposed on her by her family or friends because she has found love again so she walks away and doesn't look back. But look back she does. Everytime. And usually about one chapter later, right after her estranged but loving sister or mother has given her a good talking to but not before the new-found love of her life has been a victim of her own broken-heart and fallen into the arms of a psycho ex who is constantly trying to win her back.

Does any of this ring any bells at all? Maybe there are people out there who love the cosy sameness of it all, knowing before you even open the cover that in about 200 pages the two complete strangers who's eyes met on page two will be closing the door of their penthouse apartment bedroom to live in eternal bliss.

So, what's my point? Well it's not that I object completely to the same-old formula being rolled out over and over again - if I did I wouldn't keep buying them. I am as happy as many others to pay some money and spend a few hours speed-reading through them. Of course the hope that 'this one might be different' is always there and I have to say, sometimes that hope is realised. 

No, my point is that I am getting fed up of paying money for books that are badly written, badly constructed and, well, bad - in a word. I still read it because I've paid for it and I'm a glass half full type of girl - I always trust that it will get better so give it a chance.

But how many more poorly constructed sentences and conversations will we be subjected to? I know it is not easy. I am not saying it is. I am, however, saying that you should not have to read and reread a paragraph so you can untangle who's hand is doing what to whom, whilst at the same time you don't want it to read like a report on a game of Twister either. 

Writing is a craft, a beautiful skill, and when it is done properly it is a wonderful thing - to be able to write words that didn't exist together before you thought of them, that tell a story. To create characters from thin air that are not only believable but are people the reader cares about and is cheering on from their sofa.

It seems that there are just too many people churning out 'novels' that offer prolific thanks on the title pages to their 'amazing editors' and I have to admit, my heart races a little with the hope that they are indeed amazing and the book will be readable because of them. 

Increasingly it is not though. I am starting to believe that in order to be deemed an 'editor' you merely have to read the book and give it the thumbs up and say how amazeballs it all was.

I don't know what the answer is but I do know that I am getting tired of reading books that should be a few hours worth of fun for me but Instead I end up being angry and frustrated that someone, somewhere is making money from me and others, for a skill that they just don't have as yet. 

I recognise, of course, that these authors have spent time, lots of time, writing and I also recognise they have come up with a storyline and some characters, many of which I genuinely like - I can never read enough about super-rich lesbian characters who's parents have disowned them and who hate the world because of it and spend their lives in dark and seedy gay bars picking up girls, giving them the most mind-blowing sex and then walking away the following morning. Never enough of that. No really.

I guess what I would like to see is more serious editing - especially titles that are being pushed out by some of the more established publishing groups. I can't think of one book that I have read recently, good or bad, that is not littered with errors. Errors that any spell check would pick up and that alone annoys me. If we could just get to a point where there were no missing words or spelling errors, that would be something. Wouldn't it?

I know that I will probably get asked why I feel qualified to make all these comments for something I don't do myself. My answer? I may not write, but I do read. A lot. And that is my qualification. I am the person that these books are aimed at, the one buying them and spending my time reading what has been written.

I am the person that should want to pass these books on to others because I want others to share the emotions I've gone through while reading it. 

I hope that if enough people start pointing out the good and the bad then publishing companies might see fit to get good editors to work on these books before they are pushed out to an unsuspecting, but hopeful, public.