Recently, many of my blogs have been on behalf of other people and that’s absolutely fine. I love helping out fellow “indie” authors with their cover reveals, new releases, or blog tours… whatever, but occasionally it does behoove me to sit down and write something myself.
Feeling rather proud of myself this morning, knowing my latest book, Holy War, was completed yesterday, I thought now was the perfect time to sit down and put some words to paper.
Today, I’d like to talk about something that’s been niggling away at me for a while and that is the assumption that writing is and always will be a rule-defined, structured, and tightly controlled exercise.
I’ve had a few discussions about this with several people and there is this prevailing attitude that all books for sale, must conform to a set of rigid structures, as regards style and grammar in particular. I want to challenge that assumption somewhat today.
I want to question why, a living, evolving language such as our own beautiful language should be hide-bound by arbitrarily decided structures and styles.
It seems to me and indeed to some of my colleagues and friends that this insistence on uniformity is stifling some of the incredible creativity that is out there, in the independent author world.
I started thinking about this the other day after I had been given the opportunity to read a novel from an unknown, young author from Puerto Rico. My initial thought as I plowed through his tome, was that this was utter rubbish. It didn’t conform to any writing standards I’d ever been brought up to follow.
The dialogue wasn’t attributed properly, I just felt the grammar left a lot to be desired and the language of the street was like a foreign tongue to me. But then, I stopped myself. This young man was in his early twenties, he’d grown up on the streets of New York and lived in a totally different world to me. Who was I to criticize his writing style, so dismissively and that got me to thinking:
Who decides what is “right and proper” in the written word? Who determines what is the style, format and grammar for published books?
The answer was obvious, it’s our education system and the big-five publishers. So that led me on to consider what is the demographic of the people that hold the power in the Education System and the Publishing Houses. Again, the answer was obvious – US! The Baby-boomers. We are the ones who have determined what is proper English and how it should be presented in the written form.
Our generation, have been the most prolific readers in history. Our access to education and to books has been unparalleled. Certainly, in the West, libraries provided us with untold opportunities to read and most of the people I grew up with, like myself, were prolific readers. It’s hardly surprising then that we set the rules on what was good, what was acceptable and what would be published.
We had fewer distractions than the succeeding generations and therefore reading books was a fine and enjoyable pastime, given our limited choices.
We, as a generation, have become very protective of our version of the written word and every day I see numerous posts berating the authors of excellent stories, for shoddy, structure, style and grammar. If there’s a phrase that fries my brains it is; “more show, less tell”. I’m convinced half the people that use it don’t have a clue what they’re talking about – they’re just parroting something they’ve heard and they think it sounds as if they are literary experts, in some way.
Look, the succeeding generations on from us “experts” in the field of writing are not writing or reading as much as we did and the reason for that, it seems to me, is talented, young authors are frequently shot down in flames by “know-it-all baby boomer’s who fanatically believe our version of “good writing” is the only acceptable version –BOLLOCKS I SAY!
NEWSFLASH PEOPLE: The language we know and love is a-changing. Instead of criticising and destroying the fragile egos of these young, talented story-tellers by lambasting their work and declaring it to be rubbish, we should be embracing this brave, new world and encouraging them to keep writing, to keep being innovative and most of all to keep writing what their peers want them to read, not what some old fuddy-duddy like me thinks is the correct way.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STORY PEOPLE and I, for one, am sick and tired of self-righteous, self-appointed rulers of the literary world telling me and many others what is good and what is bad. Yours and my time as authors are limited. We are already reaching the end of our reign as self-appointed grammar nazi’s (for want of a better term), so please stop trying to hog the limelight until your dying breath and allow the new, next, undiscovered authors to come shining through.
If we want the joy of reading to be continued into the remainder of this century, then we have to let go our vicious grip on the reins of the publishing world and allow the bright, new stars to shine. It isn’t all about US! – although I know that will come as an enormous shock to many of my fellow indie authors.
Before I finish today, I want to leave you with a thought about a comment I hear regularly. “There are just so many bad books on Amazon these days”.
While, I won’t dispute there are some, (I like to call them confidence tricksters) who try to fool us into buying books that don’t even tell a story, I would offer the thought that there is NO SUCH THING as a bad book. A book is a collection of someone’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations and can, in my humble opinion never be called intrinsically bad. There are definitely books I don’t want to read, but a simple scan of the blurb will usually confirm that to me. Like a television channel, I don’t want to watch, I’m in control and I can change channels or indeed, not read that book. Books are the collective pool of a generation’s wisdom, so I cannot in all sincerity, declare a book to be “bad”.
Note, I’m not talking about spelling here. Not proofreading for spelling mistakes is still a cardinal sin in my mind, but structure, grammar, style, that’s an individual author’s choice, surely.
For anyone interested the young, man from Puerto Rico that I used in this example today he is called Angel Ramon. I still probably won’t be buying his books, in the future, as they’re just not my style at all, but I do recognize the drive, the tenacity and the need to express himself, to his generation, that Angel has. I call him a man on a mission and that he certainly is. By all means, do go and check out his work. It may be more to your taste.
REMEMBER – OUR LANGUAGE IS A-CHANGING AND WE SHOULD LET IT HAPPEN, NOT FIGHT IT TOOTH AND NAIL. LANGUAGE IS A LIVING, BREATHING ENTITY.
ENGLISH HAS SUCH POWER AND MAJESTY TO EVOKE EMOTION AND PAINT MIND PICTURES THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO EMBRACE IT FULLY IN ALL ITS ITERATIONS.
Till next time, have a wonderful, peace-filled day!
CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY!
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
HAVE A GREAT LIFE AND SPREAD THE LOVE!
CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME