Get. Off. My. Lawn.

Well, Posse!  It’s time to Get. Off. My. Lawn.

I am cranky.    Siddown, because I’mo holla! Not too loudly – this is a mild screed against … omgosh, where to start?  Pretty much piss-poor Everything Writing.  And if you holla along with me, with your own particular GOML! screed (on any subject, the more, the merrier) TGirl will enter you in a draw for some soothing samples.  Let’s get started, shall we?

    1. Quality writing.  I remember, back when Word was nascent, a writer said it (Word) would signal the downfall of quality writing, with everyone who ‘had a book in them’ feeling free to Let That Book Out.  Even though I recognized that statement for the elitism it was I also recognized the truth therein.  Just because you have A Book in you doesn’t mean you should let it out.  Heck, I have an assassin in me and I certainly am NOT going to let her out.

The rise in e-publishing  has resulted in an explosion of execrable, lazy-assed writing and even worse editing…….

::record scratch::…. screech!  Interrupting this screed to bang on about James Taylor for a tic (loved him in the 70s, then he fell off my radar) – I found the glorious ‘Hourglass’ at the Thrift (.25cents, dont’chaknow – got ‘October Road’, as well.  Floyd is Good!)… it’s on right now and… you know… this CD is that dark, fragileAF college love you haven’t seen in 40 years.  You run into him on a Summer-hot NYC sidewalk and, in a nanosecond, are blown back to your sophomore year with your whole, untried life still ahead of you… yet, even in that hurtle, you remain in the present, with the  40 years, marriage(s), the kids, the careers,  Life.  And his Life, 40 years as well right there, intertwined with yours, yet solely his.  It’s enough to break your heart while sending you soaring, yet keeping your grounded.  JT’s evolved use of a heftier rhythm section ( Edgar Meyer’s rolling bass takin’ us to CHURCH on ‘Up from Your Life’, BIG music (Stevie Wonder! Michael Brecker!…. YO-YO MA!  omg) and even deeper Philly Sound. He’s built that sound into the (signature Taylor) repeat chorus and it is Grown-Assed Man, with a heavier orchestration  along with the  antiphonal folk harmonies and chord changes he’s been sculpting through the decades. Still the same, but different, because Life- that’s what you feel in that chance encounter on the sidewalk, that brief, brilliant, melancholy look back, even as you see the 40 years – and are okay with it. You chat, hug and happily go your own ways to your discrete futures. All that in a CD!  Thanks, James. I’ll love you forever.  Glad you lived through your Life and came out strong.  Keep coming out strong, baby.


Sweet

Okay!  back to the bitchin’!!  My love for cozy mysteries and that recent  plunge into Romance means the algorithms are now FIERCE!  I am bombarded by free ebooks, KUnlims (which are NOT free, of course 😉  Bezos didn’t break 4 commas by giving shit away), ‘Suggestions from Skynet’, etc, etc …. I skittered through a few genres(cozy mysteries/romance/lite fiction) and here’s what I’ve learned along the way:

a.   With rare exception, First Person Narrative is a minefield of awful. It’s like being nattered at, constantly, by an irritating coworker. It’s a difficult undertaking and I think it shows just how unequal to the challenge most of these new writers are, that they are so cavalier in their attempt, which lands on my cranky reader’s ear like a swarm of hornets.  Wow.  I’m bitchy today.

And… what is it with the Special Forces??  The genres are lousy with ’em (and you cannot be Special Forces unless you have a shoulder/sleeve tat, just sayin’)!  I’m waiting for a book about a Special Forces gardener (if he’s out there, I don’t wanna know.  Okay, I do.).   Omg. Y’all.  The sheer number of Rangers, Airbornes, SEALs, Marines (ooh-rah!) – at this point every woman (and a few men) in the US should have one. Aren’t plumbers sexy? Few of us need to know how to field strip a rifle.  Everybody needs a plumber (but!  If you can send me a Special Forces-turned-plumber?  I’ll take that butt-crack, any day! Oooh-rah).   A propos of FPN/Special Forces Alpha Males in Romance, there is always some variation on this line:  ‘My name is (Colton/Trey/Brick/Luke). After (fill in combat scenario) I swore never to see her again but I can’t stay away because….. she. is. in. DANGER’ .When I see that in the preview* I know to bounce like there’s a cobra on the keyboard. Why can’t they ever say ‘ My name is Colton. After (fill in combat scenario) I swore never to see her again but MAYEN! Her roof is a disaster! I’mo go get Trey, Brick and Luke and get over there and re-roof that thing!’ I’d read THAT!  Don’t forget Travis, with that sexy TX drawl and that slap-hammer to get those shingles down tiiiight.  (okay, I’m done 😉

* I know I drag Bezos’ Place sometimes but I have to say I’m super-grateful for those previews.  The awful books always have one like those movie previews that, in essence, show the entire film, saving you $12. The worse the book, the longer the preview.  Lots of single-line declarations.  Nearly always godawful FPN.  Nearly always boringAF and gaggingly bad. Great covers with serious male objectifying, though.  And I am there for that.  Sigh.  If only.  As with SForces, if there were that many washboard abs in the world ..blessed Floyd.  If only.

Maybe I need to take a sedative.

b.  Series.  Omg.. series.  In the deftest hands, in any genre, it’s a challenge.  Good-to-marginally-good writers? They are exhausted and stumbling into the weeds, usually after Book 2. Bad writers?? It’s like napalm. I wish writers could take their time (not always possible, I know.  Those must be devilish contracts.).   You really can tell the difference, even in the best writers, when they are hitting a deadline rather than crafting a story.  Even my vaunted Thomas Perry, who wrote the shimmeringly perfect ‘Metzger’s Dog’ and ‘Island’, got bogged down late in the Jane Whitefield series and I barely survived it (and his later books, with pages and pages of Thomas Guide-like directions..  I still think hope he was having it on, a sly middle finger to his publishers.  Or maybe he was just tired.).  I thank Floyd errryDAY that Louise Penny takes her time.

Howevah!  That brings us to…

c. Bingeing.   This is on me.  Not the writer’s fault if they’ve taken their time but I am super late to the party, so ‘ooops’ when I binge 3 in a row and am then big mad at them for having a particular writing style.  When you know the next line before you even read it,  you’re firmly in Binge Land.  Get. Out.  It’ll still be there in a few months, promise.

d. Hobbies:  Any series that rely heavily on whatever the writer’s catnip is, be it shoes/baking/knitting/drinking/whatever.  I’m fine with setting a stage but too many of those stages are crammed, like an episode of Hoarders, with a squickton of whatever personal kink the writer is flogging.  Again, thanks, Jeff, for the advance warning!

Speaking of kink:  no.  we won’t.    Lawd. Nothing shows a writer’s lack of skill like bad smut.  Honey, there’s stuff out there that is so bad, it’s actually wonderful in its awfulness.  Who’dathunkit!?  Only takes a few pages and I’m laughing so hard I am wheezing.  And no, I’m not going to link you to any of it.  We may not be totally PG on the Posse but I’m not going there – I’m running short of brain bleach as it is.

PLEASE!  Jayzus PLEASE!  PEOPLE!  Utilize a competent copyeditor and proofreader.  Your perceived ‘creative genius’, untrammeled, is horrifying.  I’m all for freedom of expression as long as it doesn’t involve me having to parse that goober paragraph you just unleashed on my unsuspecting self.  Pronouns hanging out sans antecedents, grammatical errors (and if you confuse reflexive pronouns with personals I will hunt you down like a rabid dog). Establishing sentences completely absent (where the hell ARE you?  One minute you’re in a NYC apartment, the next you are trying to climb out of a pit in the Mojave. Did I miss something?  How did you get there? Did the Hulk show up and throw you out of a window?  Was he mad at you? What the hell is going on?).

Here’s the deal.  That ‘inspiration/perspiration’ axiom?  It’s true.  You have (or think you have) a skill?  HONE IT. Drafts.  Edits. More edits.  Some critical input.   Please, I’m begging you.

My shriek here is the inelegant equivalent of Robert Hughes’s skewering of Julian Schnabel in ‘Nothing but Critical’ that had me guffawing on the subway – I mean GUFFAWING!  with folks edging away because nothing says INSANE like a well dressed woman foaming at the mouth, tears leaking out, laughing.

Okay.  I’m done.  That felt GOOD!  What’s your story?  TGirl wants to know!

Oooh!  And I didn’t forget!  Winner of the Liz Zorn samples from ‘All About that Base’:

maggiecat!

gmail your evilauntieanita, remind me what you won.  I’ve been astonishingly good about Getting Stuff Out in timely fashion!

 

  • Patty says:

    Poorly written books are distracting. There are well-known authors that are some of the worst. I think they get big enough, they ignore their editor and do whatever they hell they want. I’ve been meandering in books for a while, doing different genres. Any one bores me after a while. I know I don’t have a book in my. I tried – first person! – and I think I got 20 pages done and decided it was complete dreck and never looked at it again.

    • Musette says:

      LOL! Been there 😉

      And yes, the stature of the writer doesn’t assure a good book, always. I still scratch my head at Perry’s later books – he’s such an elegant writer (March and I still marvel at the perfection of ‘Metzger’s Dog’ and ‘Island’ nearly surpasses it!) but later, once he started a series, he seemed to lose interest. And his standalones got even more insane, plotwise …then he did the whole ‘let’s tell you each and every damb street they took to evade the villains’… it was dismaying, to say the least. He’s gotten a little bit of his mojo back, now. Maybe he switched pubs or got a new contract, giving him more control over his output…who knows?

      xoxo

  • Queen-Cupcake says:

    Ah, Musette, you are cracking me up today! I’m in total agreement about the writing today. I still think you have at least one great novel floating around in your psyche and your wonderful brain. Yep, it is probably exhausting but you have the fire in you, girl! If not now, when? Thanks to all in the Posse for those book and music recommendations. XOX

    • Musette says:

      I do this so you don’t have to, cupcake! There is some scary stuff out there!!!
      I should write a Were Erotica book (dagnabbit! cuttlefish has already been done – hmmmm)! LOL! Fill it full of poor grammar, florid prose, impossible sexual situations and zero editing. Betcha it would be YUUUGE!

      xoxoxo

  • Musette says:

    Missy March – btw – LOVE the dog photo! Sorry I forgot to insert something. Thanks for the rescue (pun sorta intended 😉 ).

    xo

    • March says:

      Ha! I was wondering if you’d notice! I thought it fit nicely… since that image (or lack thereof) shows up in various places I thought I’d drop one in…

  • Cinnamon says:

    Oh, yes, that was laugh out loud. Thank you. Just a few comments. John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series is worth following. Somehow he manages to be different each book. Also, he writes beautifully and appears to have very good copy editors. James Taylor. Yes. Sweet Baby James was on repeat when my son was a tiny baby. Self-publishing. Mostly no. Current grumple? I need a chef to shop and cook for us. It’s just necessary.

  • Portia says:

    Mildly connected brag: Jin was in the South Korean army, went on to a Bachelor of Korean Literature and is now an electrician.
    Not special forces but still……

    I’m not sure what’s wrong with me but reading and I are on hiatus. Even my favourite books and series that I’ve been rereading since teen years aren’t holding my attention anymore. Not even the Gerald Durrell or E M Forster short stories. It’s weird.
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      It’s not weird, honeydoodle. I went through that same phase and know a lot of others who have, as well. The stress and anxiety of lockdown(s) has affected us all in myriad ways and with you guys clamping down again, it probably hasn’t helped. I thought lite fiction/romance would help (and in some instances it did) but as I dove further in I realized that the very casualness of the writing was starting to wear me out. I went back to heavier work (like Octavio Paz’s THE DOUBLE FLAME) and am feeling much more refreshed.

      Jin is Life Goals for me, hon. You know that. If I could find a man like him…….. oooh, RAH!

      xo

  • Tara C says:

    It’s been a long time since I read a novel, I pretty much stick to non-fiction nowadays, but I’ll always remember Gore Vidal’s comment about reading some godawful thing and getting bored with pages of very carefully described sex, finally just hoping to find a good sentence. LOL.
    And I looove James Taylor. Saw him in concert many years ago, so amazing. Must check out that new album.

    • Musette says:

      Poor Gore, how he must’ve suffered. I know I do. I am all for titillation in fiction but it’s only titillating if done in moderation (at least for me), otherwise it’s like eating an entire chocolate cake in one sitting, which (for me) sounds nauseating – and I LOVE chocolate.
      xo

  • Dina C. says:

    Darling Musette,
    You are, once again, on my wavelength! I am 100% with you on poorly edited, grammatically incorrect e-books that read like they were slapped together at 2:00 a.m. by a college sophomore who was avoiding writing their paper on Comparative Religions. Yeesh! And yes, thank you Louise Penny and other fabulous writers who release their books only after thoroughly researching, writing, and editing them. Best of all: James Taylor! Have you listened to his latest album, “American Standard” for which he earned a Grammy award? It’s awesome. If you buy it, and you should, buy it off the UK Amazon site because you get 3 bonus tracks! And they are so worth it.

    • Musette says:

      LOL! It’s stunning how much poorly-written dreck is out there, innit? Smart Bitches frequently yarks on about ‘limb placement’, which is hysterical. (how can you be doing X (which requires TWO hands, the way you’re describing it) and still reach up and grab her jaw/face/hair…. I’m 5’8″, which is a pretty standard height, I think…. maybe an NBA player….? Otherwise, that’s a bit of a stretch. And… do you have a 3rd arm..?

      That sort of thing.
      Definitely checking out ‘American Standard’ – JT is a treasure.

  • March says:

    I … dunno? We like what we like. Even before self-publishing I’d read stuff and think, what this needs is an editor, and/or a reader who ain’t me. I’m (weirdly?) way more irritated buying some $4 self-published thing and discovering it’s trash because I feel like I should have known better, and there are SO many well-reviewed authors I’ve not read… I’m always buying books off the library sale shelves for $1 or $2 and then I can take them back when I’m done, and at least now the libraries are opening! The one here JUST RE-OPENED and I was first in line to get a library card haha, I have my priorities straight! I love love love libraries. I know I could order ahead and pick up during COVID but it’s not the same. Also I would 100% read the book where Trey calls his old black ops buddies Brick and Luke and Colt and they go build a house for Habitat for Humanity or something. Seriously think about that for a second… vs. what people who read that genre would be expecting? That would be A HOOT. FIVE STARS.

    • Musette says:

      LOL! I don’t care what people LIKE – they can like the living daylights out of whatever. I care about a bit of quality – and, to be FAIR 😉 , most of the review complaints are about the quality. You can write about sex/weres/food… just … don’t be lazy about it.

      And SQUOO HforHumanity. I NEED THOSE OPS. Why you tryn’ take ’em from me? I thought you were my friend….

      xoxo