1. slippingbeauty
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    slippingbeauty Member

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    finding it hard to read literature written by others than myself

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by slippingbeauty, Jan 11, 2012.

    I write a lot and have done so for years.
    I used to love to read novels by other authors but as I grew older and got better at writing myself, I somehow started to get annoyed by almost everything I read which I had not written myself. It started with the fact that I stopped reading books before they ended because I would rather make up an ending in my head instead of being disappointed by the actual ending that the author had come up with. Then it evolved into me actually dreading reading in general because I am afraid of how much I am going to hate it, especially with novels that quite a lot of people consider great literature. I feel like this is a real problem because as I want to continue writing in the future and it is a part of my identity, I should definitely be the first person to know the basics of literature considered great and of the development, and writers of this current time, the time that I am also writing... I guess it is important to know right?! Please tell me ways I can endure reading and if it is ok that I dont read alot...
     
  2. Baba Yaga
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    Baba Yaga Member

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    Two words: audio books.

    I used to spend a lot of time in my car and so bought a pile of classics that I'm still getting through. It's much easier to remember the characters and the story if you're not painfully dragging your eyes across every sentence (and it makes traffic infinitely more tolerable). It might be cheating, but I think listening to a book is better than never picking it up at all.

    Also try to track down the kind of books you will actually enjoy. It's important to know the classics and to at least tick a few of the 'must reads', but writing and reading are subjective and you can't expect yourself to love every 'great' book that's ever been written.

    I personally LOVE Stephen King, even though many call him a pancake writer. I'll usually pick up a 'must read' classic and a King at the same time and reward myself afterwards. And when you do enjoy the classic in question? Then everybody wins.

    But seriously, audio books.
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    OMG, this is so close to how i feel. i have the exact same feeling sometimes. I think it's a mix of 1. my taste in books have changed since i was younger and I haven't yet figured out what kind of books I like today and 2. the need to write the kind of books that I can't find anywhere else. i'm forcing myself to read anyway, hoping I'll learn something from them, but like you, most of the books that are generally considered great I haven't read and if I have they leave me with a feeling of delusion. I don't really know what to do about it either. I'm looking forward to see the replies, so i can get an advice as well.
    In my case it's not so much that i don't acknowledge or admire the way they're written that I don't enjoy the topic or find them interesting enough to hold my attention for like 500+ pages but I have never felt I wanted to rewrite the ending.
     
  4. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Authors all have different styles so I don't see, unless your style is incredibly broad, how you can feel you are better than everything you read. Reading and writing are two completely different things, as far as I'm concerned. Sure, reading is required to be a good writer, but when I read I don't have the same mindset as when I write. I'm letting someone else tell the story, their story, and as such I adopt a different position. Basically, unless you don't mind stopping reading which would be a torture to me, I think you need to change your attitude to other peoples' work, enjoy their point of view and their style and don't compare it to yourself.
     
  5. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    If you're talking about a random book you grab off the shelf at WHsmith, then yes I agree, to an extent. I find a lot of writing disappointing, especially since I've taken the time and effort to improve my writing and a lot of what comes out is lackluster at best.

    If you're talking about literature, about classic books that defined genres and have been studied for hundreds of years, then I think you're very vain, delusional and unfortunately nowhere near as good as you think you are.

    Maybe you just haven't found the right genre/author for you?
     
  6. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Sounds like classic signs of a control freak to me - you can't abide anyone doing anything differently to the way you would do it, you can't let go because you don't trust anyone to do something as well as you, and you are perpetually dsappointed by anything not up to your own perceived standard.

    You need to try and accept that other people's opinions/ideas/work is as valid as yours, and actually enjoy some diversity instead of trying to make everything conform to your own view of the world.

    In a word: unclench.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want to be a successful writer, you must be a constant reader... you must not be reading good writing, if you can't stand to read it...

    has your own writing been been judged 'exceptional' by professionals?... or is its 'better than what you read' quality only your own opinion?
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think what she means by preferring her own stories might be that she want to get a certain feeling while reading and most books she read doesn't offer that possibility, be it the topic or the development of the events. I have had that feeling when I had finished reading every book of my former favourite writers (old school writers but maybe not in the category "great" writers as in the classics.) and then I felt like I could just as well stop reading because there were no more books like that and writers doesn't write like that anymore. The books I have read since hasn't given me the same feeling of being transported into the world of the novel or made me care and relate to the mc like they did. I don't know if that was just the young inexperienced reader-me giving those writers more credit than they deserved because I was new to that kind of novels or what, but they sure made an impact on me.
     
  9. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    It's all in your mind. You have to stop believing that the ending you can come up with in your head is better than the ending the actual author wrote. It is their story do not try and manipulate it in your mind.
     
  10. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    It's likely because as you've developed as a writer yourself, you don't read in the same way as you used to. During my time at university they drummed into us a way of reading, to be breaking down syntax and grammar, thinking about historical or religious context in everything, identifying the structure of the prose, learning the author's intentions and always, ALWAYS be looking for quotes to back up your ideas.

    Suffice to say... I don't read like I used to! I enjoy a well written story so much more, but don't have time for crap and I'm unapologetic about that. I can see the TC's points, my gripe was it came across a little smug, whether that was her intention or not.
     
  11. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    i dont wish to be offensive here but you sound really REALLY arrogant.

    firstly, your opinion is your opinion, everyone has an opinion, but stopping to read a book because it has an ending your not satisfied with? thats not right. some books i read dont have good endings and i can even make up better ones but stopping reading altogether because you read a bunch of books that you didnt like the ending of? nah man nah thats just...dunno actually.

    secondly, reading is what got you to become a good writer....and reading will continue to improve your writing--reading and practicing are the only two ways to improve that period.

    thirdly, until you become a new york time bestseller whatever you cant say these books that people consider great are crappy...once you do however (if you do) id like a signed copy of your book ;)

    end
     
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  12. slippingbeauty
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    slippingbeauty Member

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    hahahaha wow this was interesting! I am now a control freak and really arrogant as well:p I can only assume that most of you cannot relate at all to what I am saying because I do not think that I am a better writer than the appreciated writers out there. I guess I just thought that a lot of writers could understand how I felt and that I might get some tips on how to work this out thats why I posted this thread in the first place:) I do hope no one feels offended or angry.

    Anyways I will try to explain myself better: I feel like alot of what I read from authors is very similar, like for instance I feel like Paulo Coelho (Brazilian right?) is extremely similar to a lot of Spanish authors and I feel sick when I read his stuff just because so many people love his work so much and I think theres nothing unique about it whatsoever. I might be completely wrong but thats not even the point at all the point is I cant deal with reading alot of "classics" or "appreciated literature" I guess I feel disappointed in what the majority of people like to read, I always feel upset that there are tons of crap books in the drug stores and stuff and it kind of makes me worried haha as well as alot of books honestly are not as deep as people claim they are etc
    The reason why I feel that it is a set back that I dont enjoy reading what other people write is because I am sure there are things I also could learn, from reading it, like how they organize their novels and things like that.

    When it comes to what I write I have never tried to publish anything yet and only my close friends have read my works except for a few lines that I sent to a publishing company to get their view on it. I am absolutely not confident Im even a good writer yet, I feel that Im constantly growing and always getting better and I believe that one day I can actually become very good. But like I said its not about that at all haha
     
  13. slippingbeauty
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    slippingbeauty Member

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    and by the way YES I can say that drug store romantic sleezy books like that written for old lonely people are crappy, that is my prerogative. I do live in this society so:p
     
  14. slippingbeauty
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    slippingbeauty Member

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    oh and I particularily cared for this specific feed back "nah man nah thats just...dunno actually." thank you now my life is transformed!
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Don't worry about it. Writers are insecure by nature. When you say you don't like to read other people's work, part of the "other people" are those answering you in this thread, and some people don't handle those kinds of comments very well.
     
  16. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    I must've missed that comment...

    There's no need to be so defensive. Your tone came across smug to me, even if you didn't intend it to. Firstly, you assumed you would come up with a better idea for an ending than the author of the book, that's undeniably arrogant.


    Then you assumed "great literature" would fail to meet YOUR expectations... which didn't sit too well with me either.
    I'm not sure what reaction you expected your post to have to be honest but apart from the "control freak" and "arrogant" comments, people gave fair feedback to your points.
     
  17. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    that comment was me bro haha

    "firstly, your opinion is your opinion, everyone has an opinion, but stopping to read a book because it has an ending your not satisfied with? thats not right. some books i read dont have good endings and i can even make up better ones but stopping reading altogether because you read a bunch of books that you didnt like the ending of? nah man nah thats just...dunno actually."
     
  18. slippingbeauty
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    slippingbeauty Member

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    Ok Anarchist: Firstly; no I actually never in my life have believed that I can come up with a better ending for a book that another author than myself has written, simply because the book would not make sense if one writer would write most of it and then another person would write the ending. But the story that I have imagined in my head from reading the book is what will be destroyed when the ending will not happen as I imagined. So it is purely for myself that I do not like to read the ending because I like the freedom to imagine whatever I like. I explained this JUST FOR YOU so I hope you feel happy now. And the second part about "great literature" it is all about views. If everybody loved what I wrote with absolutely no challanging feed back whatsoever I would be very unsatisfied.
     
  19. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    It does sound like you're trying to make yourself read books you feel you should read, instead of seeking out things you would enjoy- that sounds pretty punishing. I have quite specific tastes in books, a heck of a lot of stuff leaves me cold- books that other people love. But I just make the effort to find books that suit me, and ignore the rest. That may well make me a less well-rounded writer or whatever, but for me it's worth it for the joy of regularly getting lost in stories I really love. So I'd say you have no reason to worry about what other people are reading or writing, just make yourself happy- after all it's a big world and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there with the same taste as you :)
     
  20. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    Okay, all tension aside, what genre do you write?
    If we knew a bit more about you and your writing style and tastes other users might be able to point you in the direction of authors and specific books which you will find helpful.

    I did a literature degree and I'll admit to hating a lot of what I had to read. I didn't consider it bad, it just wasn't to my taste and was not helpful to my style of writing - though honestly some of it WAS pretentious and overrated ;)
     
  21. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    spoken like a true legend anarchist ;)

    sorry if i sounded offensive that was definitely not my aim, just the opening post seemed a bit arrogant is all but when you explained it a bit more i got what you meant.
     
  22. slippingbeauty
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    slippingbeauty Member

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    :) I have written two romantic criminal novels in the past and now I am just done translating a story which is a kind of poetic fantasy novel, as well as I am writing a kind of sequel or rather a connected story to that one.
    My taste is I like to read old feminists like Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and also some Emily Bronte and some Margaret Atwood. The way I like to read things is just getting tastes and images of what I am reading. I also enjoy reading fantasy novels like Susanna Clarke. I think that no matter how awesome all these books and writers are I will always prefer to read the stories I have written myself because I love that freedom of it and thats why when I have time I rather write and read what I write than what other authors have written. I will try to pace myself and read a bit more though
     
  23. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    just a quick question: have you read the bartimaeus trilogy? its not romantic crime but its probably one of my favourite series of all time and its pretty awesome haha

    signing off hb
     
  24. slippingbeauty
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    slippingbeauty Member

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    nope whats it about?
     
  25. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    wanted to answer immediately and looked at my shelf to realise the first book of the trilogy is missing! :eek:

    anyway its a world of magicians and demons and commoners, the magicians use the demons and the commoners struggle for the magicians who live in wealth. the story is generally portrayed in the view of nathaniel (a rising up magician) and bartimaeus (one of his demons, hilarious), later also being portrayed in the view of kitty too (a commoner)

    here is the link for the series by jonathan stroud if you want to look further into: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartimaeus_%28book_series%29
     

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