Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1433: Lightning On The Letter-Monster

I have read certain books which do not impress me. In order to describe them, I might choose any number of unflattering adjectives: boring, dissatisfying, empty, futile, tedious, or overly long. Yet (inevitably) after I share my impressions, someone always suggests the following: 'But Bill, that was the point! You were supposed to be bored! It was supposed to feel empty! Because it addressed the emptiness of (x) and (y)!' But the same word always comes up in my mind: No. It probably wasn't the author's intent that I should be unimpressed; but more importantly, it should never be the author's intent that readers be unimpressed.

Do not mistake me. I have read wonderful books which made me unhappy; others confused me, and others still made me feel rather tantalizingly empty, as though I had missed something that the author tried to piece together. A text does not need to be logical or satisfying in order to impress. But it ought to do the whole resonating number. It should draw them back, make them say 'I want to feel that sense of puzzlement again.' If an author's purpose was to underwhelm me (to have me say, 'This was boring and I don't ever care to read it again'), then couldn't they have just written a shoddy poem in forty-five seconds? Couldn't they just say 'Screw craft, the point is that the reader be unimpressed; let's write like a second-grader.' If it is artful to make a reader dissatisfied and unimpressed, then let's publish what a ten-year-old amateur has written. Because that's the point, right? The point was for the book to stink?

No. You may assign your work any number of 'reasons' and 'points.' But if you expended time & effort in order to make it, then do not tell me it was meant to stink. If you worked on it with intensity and focus, then that is the one thing it cannot be intended to do. No, John, no.

A few krazy kharacters:

1. It's like somebody threw the two of us in a box together. We're like 'Oh how are you!' and we're trying to figure out when we start doing stuff. Oftentimes I wonder how strange I might seem, how sudden and off-balance everything might feel to you. . . But I also have a habit (is it a defense mechanism?) of imagining the two of us in some sort of vacuum. This concept is tough to describe, and I would understand if anyone felt bewildered by what I'm writing. But basically I imagine this empty world, one where I'm standing there and you're just kind of looking at me. And that's a comical image that makes me laugh, and the End Result is: I'm kind of just happy that I'm trying.
2. Why do I get the sense that I can do nothing to please you? Is it because I behaved in a self-centered way? Yes, I suppose you noticed that & resented it. But more than that, it's like you're unable to forget it. And now (in your mind), everything I do is self-centered. If I use the word 'I,' that is self-centered. If I write in a personal blog, that is self-centered. It's almost as though you're scratching every part of me away, until one day you will merely catch sight of me. And you will say, 'Still existing, Bill? How self-centered of you.'
3. Man. There are so many people I could try & puzzle over, but you drew the short straw today. I maintain now (and likely, will always maintain) that Somehow, you carry an inexplicably frustrating handful of mysteries with you. The main issue is this: You've seemed so determined to erase me from existence, to blot out every word I ever said because it bored you or confused you or made you uncomfortable or whatever. But every once in a while, it's like, 'Oh. You aren't trying to ignore me. How bout that.' And suddenly my understanding is ruined, if not improved, and I have no idea where to start. Bottom Line: I don't think I will understand you. Ever. But if you try and prove me wrong, I will be thrilled.

I think this is the worst closing-sentence I have ever used for a blog entry.

1 comment:

  1. Yep. It's one thing, if after sharing book feels, the other person's response is "Oh, I didn't feel that way because x," so then it's reasonable to think that okay, this book just wasn't for me. It's another thing altogether for other folks to say, "That's what it's supposed to be like!" as though it was silly of you to have high expectations from a book.

    The lack of resonance in my own writing is one reason I haven't seriously pursued publication. I'd rather not publish something that sucks.