Thursday, 16 February 2012

Under New Management

What makes a good writer? I was thinking about this today because of my favourite place for breakfast. This place usually serves fluffy omelets loaded with saute diced ham, baby shrimps, mushrooms, chopped celery, parsley and sweet onions with a generous side of chunky panfries--the kind that's crispy on the outside and tender inside--plus the ubiquitous thick slice of toasted nutbread accompanied by a pat of butter and mini-pot of peach jam. Needless to say, my friends and I had our mouths and stomachs ready for this memorable feast, starting with the generous mug of fresh brewed coffee. The sign on the window should have warned us: "Under New Management." Our highly anticipated breakfast was "memorable" but definitely not in a good way!  Which brings me back to my original question, "What makes a good writer?"
There were some books I had high expectations on because of the writers' reputation. However, these books should have had a sign attached: "Under New Management."
I think even a well-established writer can have an "off" day.  I enjoy reading books written by a familiar name because I expect the books to be a few hours or days of terrific "escapism." How disappointing when you anticipate a good--no, a "great" read--and it isn't. I like to think even best-selling authors/writers can have a bad day at their computers.  I feel it makes them more "human"--even a tad more "humble" because the stress of producing something as good or better than their previous book plus their readers expectations--must be horrendous.  I like to think that the "not-so-good" pages that were painfully filled that day would be ruthlessly re-read the next and just shredded.  And, if it miraculously got to their editor's desk, then that person should have been honest--not awestruck--and sent it back.  Readers know what they like.  Surprisingly, we are loyal to our authors and if we have to wait a year or two or even three before the next book appears, then hopefully it will be worth the wait.  I appreciate the hours, days and months putting the right words together.  To be able to "grab" the readers by the eye-balls with the first few sentences; to  maintain that level of expectation we seek from the author; to satisfy our anticipation; that feeling of wanting more when the last page is read--then that truly is a good writer.  

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