Laura gave us some good food for thought today. What do we love to read? What do we avoid reading at all costs? How would our writing change if we read more things we avoid? So many thoughts, so little time…
I love to read so many different things. I love to read historical books about Tudor England. I love to read JD Robb stories. I love Clive Cussler. I love Nora Ephron. I love People Magazine and Vogue. Reader’s Digest and National Geographic. Georgette Heyer novels and books about World War II. The list bounces from the sublime to the ridiculous. I wouldn’t know where to start.
I’m not sure that what I read has a tremendous impact on what I write. I write about what I see in life, not what I read about fantasy. I do believe that people who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, so I suppose what I read about history affects my point of view on some subjects.
I am far more definitive about what I avoid reading. I avoid reading strongly biased articles about politics – whether they are biased on the side of liberals or conservatives. I avoid reading hate-filled commentary that I find narrow minded and bigoted. I avoid reading stories that have a strong ‘moral’ message, especially those compositions that go out of their way to beat me over the head with the message. I don’t do conspriracy theories.
If I had to confess to a really strong aversion, I would admit that I avoid reading anything that is chock full of gratuitous sex, violence and profanity. I am not a mealy-mouthed hypocrite. I use strong language. Not as much as I did when I was younger, but I’m not afraid to drop the “F-bomb” in a conversation, if I feel it is appropriate. Sometimes, the best way to get the point across is to make sure it is decorated with a couple of expletives.
I actively dislike anything I read where the writer can’t go more than three words without swearing – and at least one of those three words is “a”, “an” or “the”. I just don’t need that much explanation. I don’t find it enhances a story when I get pages and pages of graphic descriptions of various sex acts. Call me a prude, but my imagination can fill in the blanks without that much help. I don’t think it adds to the story. It doesn’t make me want to feverishly read on and turn the pages faster and faster. I just keep wondering when they are going to get on with the story. Unless, of course, the story turns out to be more like an instruction manual than a work of fiction. (Or non-fiction.) I am not interested in the psychological profile and lunch time activities of a screaming sadist, a weeping masochist, a sex addict or people who can’t make up their minds, so just do everybody with a body temperature over 60 degrees Farenheit. Call me dull.
People spend a whole lot more time doing things besides having sex. I am usually more interested in what they have done with the rest of their day, after using up their three minutes in the bedroom. Same goes for characters in a story. Heaving bosoms and rape-and-pillage novels generally leave me yawning – or ready to go to my own bed, where reality is always better than fantasy.
We are taught from an early age to avoid things that are bad for us. Like sticking our hands into a fire, or walking in front of a bus. Over time, we usually develop a good internal warning system to keep us out of danger. I don’t see anything wrong with listening to my inner warning system, and avoiding books that I will find boring, overly graphic and just plain dumb.
Maybe my writing would improve if I spent some time delving into the world of sex, lies and videotape. But you know what? I think most people get my message without my throwing in a lot of extra stuff. I just tell it like I see it. I think there is a lot more to life than f&*@#$% s*% and swearing.
Sandi Tuttle is the host of the Blog Talk Radio show “An Average Woman in a Superwoman World” (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sandi-tuttle).