Why I Write

I read a Reader’s Digest article (from the September 2017 Genius Issue) describing the phenomenon of bestsellers growing “simpler” by the year. This is not a commentary on the article, but a few quick thoughts inspired by its subject matter.

I’m also currently reading Moby Dick.

I am not particularly enjoying the read –no offense to Herman Melville!

One of my favorite books of all time is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. If you’ve read it, or any of his novels, you know it’s a grammatical anarchy. It’s also almost monosyllabic with short sentences (when he can be arsed to punctuate at all).

There’s nothing complicated about The Road. What is written is what is happening. There are no tangents, no paragraph after paragraph of description.

And yet, not many people would say The Road is a book for stupid people. It’s a Pulitzer Prize winning novel and was adapted into a film by the same name. Its content is heavy, and its impact on the reader is powerful.

When I read The Road, I felt like I was really there watching these characters. Their suffering and struggles are tangible. The action was right there before me.

As I read Moby Dick, I find myself wondering why the narrator is going off on spiel after spiel about Roman mythology –or, I think that’s what’s happening. It’s obviously targeted toward an audience more educated than I.

Yet, even to someone clever enough to easily comprehend it, is a book like Moby Dick more entertaining than The Road, or maybe just more mentally stimulating?

I suppose a reader’s preference comes from what they hope to gain from the act of reading.

I want to write the book I want to read. I want to entertain, provoke thought where I can, and make readers laugh at some fucked up shit. I do not want them to stop every couple paragraphs to research an obscure reference I’ve made or look up the definition of unnecessarily large words.

What do you want to accomplish with your writing?

What types of books do you prefer, and why?

2 thoughts on “Why I Write

  1. Melville is one of my favorite authors- I like Bartleby the Scrivener and Billy Bud they are much shorter stories of his. The reason I love Melville is that he is very inventive with his language and extremely funny. Things do go over my head and I’m not always up for that level of concentration. I also like classic mysteries like Agatha Christie, she is also very clever and a master of creating mood.
    But for me it’s important that a story not just exist to manipulate my emotions this way and that. What I consider to be the Downton Abbey School of shock and awe makes me feel emotionally toyed with. In contrast, Melville can give really good character depth in a way that most authors don’t bother with. I guess I’m saying that some authors rip emotions out of you and others offer insights into emotions. The former are takers and the latter are givers and I prefer the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am certainly going to have to give the titles you named a try! I am just smart enough to grasp that there’s some intense wit going on in the novel, but apparently not so smart it doesn’t go whizzing right over my head. I like how you phrased that –that sometimes we don’t want to have to concentrate that hard to enjoy a book. I think that’s how these “simpler” novels have become so popular. People don’t have a ton of free time these days to ponder complicated novels! 🙂

      As a Downton Abbey fanatic, I do have to agree with you that too much emotion can be just as, if not more exhausting in books and shows. It’s imperative to strike a balance to keep readers interested without wearing them out. I sure hope, as a writer, I am a “giver.”

      Thank you for your insightful comment!


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