Monday, December 09, 2013

Author Culpa

Just read on a blog that someone read one of my books and got lost at the end. In other words, he or she does not know how it ended, after investing all that time in reading it. The blogger also adds that he is sure that this is his fault, not mine.

I beg to differ.

Even though a book could only have ended one way. Even though I believed it to be the perfect ending, foreshadowed in several places (including the first line of the book) and summing up a lot of things about how this protagonist's life has gone. Even though my editor loved that ending, recognised its potential ambiguity and worked with me to make it clearer. Even though [insert excuse here]...

...it is not that blogger's fault.

It is the author's fault, every time.

Every time a reader gets lost at the end of a book. Every time they yawn and put it down, switch on the TV instead. Every time they throw it across the room a little too hard, inadvertently hitting that goldfish bowl and causing the poor fish undue mental trauma while it thrashes helplessly on the chic, exposed floorboards. Every time they read the book, like it enough, put it back on the shelf and immediately forget all about it.

Each time one of these little failures happens it is my fault.

If you are a writer and you don't agree, just think of the way books are these days. This isn't the fifties. We don't have a pulp fiction stand on every intersection of every main street of every city. We don't have half the punters on the train to work with their nose in a book (or if we do, it's the same book). We don't have the written page as the premier format of storytelling. We don't have shit, dear author. Least of all a fair chance of making a living out of this gig.

So what do we have?

One opportunity to grab a reader's attention, every time we are lucky enough to have someone pick up our book.

Use it.

5 comments:

David Belbin said...

So come on, Charlie, which book was it?

Charlie Williams said...

David, you know which one it is!

Karin said...

I guess your busy rewriting that one now.

Karin said...

I guess you're busy rewriting that one now. Pls delete previous error-ridden comment.

Charlie Williams said...

I don't go THAT far Karin. Not when it's already published! But you try to learn for the next time. And BTW one typo does not "error-ridden" make :-)