Sometimes, all the barbed wire and ‘keep out’ signs in the world just won’t stop someone determined to slap you with a challenge. On this particular occasion, it happened to be Sarah Zama over at “The Old Shelter” that slipped through the carefully prepared defences and clambered over the ramparts.
I jest, of course. I welcome visitors just as much as Vlad welcomed… well… perhaps I should just move swiftly on.
So, I duly accepted the challenge and have set down here a number of things that I love and hate. There are 20 of them to be exact… 10 for each. All equally loved and all equally hated. None get any special treatment around here. 1 is just as good/bad as 10.
And so, without further ado, here they are…
1) as a reader… those moments when one more sentence becomes one more paragraph, which in turn becomes one more page and finally ends up being eight chapters. A glance at the clock and I know that I’m never going to get up on time. I never liked my job anyway…
2) as an author… those moments when I become oblivious to the world around me and reality bends to the words upon the screen/paper. Time no longer holds any meaning and when I finally resurface I realise that day has slipped silently into night.
3) as a reader… those moments when it feels as if the author has written the book exclusively for me.
4) as an author… those moments when I’m sat in a darkened pub with a pint, some great tunes in the background and a notepad and paper (beer mats work too).
5) as a reader… that moment when I walk into an old bookstore, take in the aroma, and find the last book of that trilogy that I’ve been wanting to read for the past two and a half decades. Perfect day.
6) as an author… Those moments when it feels as if the story is lost and I’m about to topple over the edge into despair. An idea, sporting a worn hat and bullwhip, suddenly throws me a rope and pulls me back from the brink. Me and ideas are the best of friends.
7) as a reader… that moment when I pick up a book I’ve already read and shake hands with the characters that I traveled with once before. We all know how it will end, but it’s the journey that counts.
8) as an author… that moment when someone reads a sample of my story and provides a page of feedback rather than just a simple “It’s great.”
9) as a reader… those occasions when I no longer notice the passing of page numbers and chapters. All that exists is the story.
10) as an author… those moments when I get a phone call from an agent/publisher asking me for my bank details so they can deposit a truly obscene amount of money in it. Oh, damn… I must have nodded off there for a moment. Sorry. Of course, that never happens. What I meant to say was… that moment when I’m writing a scene and a song bursts through my headphones that just fits perfectly. There just isn’t anything better than adding colour to that picture within my head with words and music.
1) as a reader… those moments when the main character’s name is bland (more so in a fantasy novel). It may be picky, but the wrong name kills a story for me every time. I just can’t get into a book if I have to read a name that just doesn’t work for me. The story might be well written, but if I get stuck on that name it just doesn’t matter. It’s dead to me. Dead.
2) as an author… those moments when I follow someone on Twitter and immediately receive an automated Direct Message asking me to like them on Facebook, buy their book, clean their car and feed their cat. There really needs to be an optional button other than ‘delete’… something like ’Enjoy A Slow, Painful, Death in Hell’ works for me.
3) as a reader… that moment when I reach the end of a book in an ongoing series and then have to wait DECADES for the next one. You all know who I’m talking about. There is a very good chance of dying of old age before you ever find out how “Game of Thrones” ends.
4) as an author… those moments when readers complain about how long it takes me to write the next book of my series. Goddammit. I’m an artist and I’ll take as long as I bloody well want to!
5) as a reader… those moments when I’m on Goodreads and I have to wear wellies, just to prevent my socks from getting wet in the cascade of tears that pour from the eyes of authors, lamenting the unkindness of readers everywhere.
6) as an author… those moments when you see other authors/writers spamming your Twitter feed with their book or 5-star review/quote. SPAM POSTS ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM TYPING IN BLOCK CAPITALS. It’s annoying. Shouting the loudest while waving your book in the air does not make me want to read anything you’ve written or make me the slightest bit interested in you as an author.
7) as a reader… those moments when you’re nearing the end of a good story and then… out of f@#!*$# nowhere… deus ex machina. Yes, Mr. King, I’m looking at you, but don’t worry, you’re not alone.
8) as an author… those moments when autocorrect thinks it knows better and my words out just come all wrong.
9) as a reader… those occasions when an author writes each chapter from a character’s point of view. I get it. I do. I just don’t really care about some of the characters. This means I am very tempted to scan chapters, or even skip them entirely, just to get to those chapters which further my favourite character’s storyline. I’ll probably end up flicking back to the other chapters if I need to know something important and thus read the story in a different order than which you intended.
10) as an author… those moments when I’m sitting down to write and I get asked if I can “just spare a quick minute”. Of course, time is in the eye of the beholder (or something like that). What might be a ‘quick minute’ for you is more likely to be a goddamn hour for me.
There. All done.
There were a couple of things I could have added to both lists, such as how I love, as an author, that moment when someone reads your work and asks you when your next book is coming out. Then there are those moments, as a reader, when you get excited upon hearing that an author is going to return to an earlier series only to find that they destroy the very memories you had once breathed, i.e. Dragons of Summer Flame.
Apparently, I need to nail the challenge to 10 other people now that I’m finished with the hammer. I’ll do that via Twitter since there is less chance for them to see me coming.
And on that note I shall bid you adieu.