I’m reading Kirstyn McDermott’s excellent Madigan Mine in time for her Adelaide launch on Tuesday (at Dymocks, Rundle Mall: 12-1. In case you were wondering.) It arrived on my doorstep Friday afternoon, and I’m now only a hop, skip and a jump away from finishing it.
And now it has struck me that there is something imbalanced about being a good writer. (And not just in a psychological sense. That just goes without saying.) It’s just, it takes aaaaaaaaaages to read a crappy book — if you are willing to slog your way through it, that is. You spend so much time poring over something substandard, and rueing every minute of it. But a good book can be gobbled up in a day, if you’ve got the time to dedicate towards a full day of reading, and few enough distractions to allow your nose to be kept in said book for hours on end. Even if you have some minor distractions, like that pesky work thing, or offspring of the furry and/or non-furry varieties, you can still chew through a brilliant book in a few sittings once they’ve been dealt with sent lovingly to their respective rooms.
A writer, on the other hand, spends hours; no: weeks; often years creating stories (out of blood, sweat, tears; riddled with self-doubt; killing darlings and sometimes relationships in the process) — the very same stories that readers inhale between dinner and bedtime.
So it’s occurred to me that perhaps, despite the abundance of books in the world nowadays, we should promise to re-read the brilliant ones at least once. You know, to even the score a little bit. Having said that, a really brilliant book will stay with the reader for hours; no weeks; often years — thus repaying the writer for their efforts in spirit, if not in measurable increments on the clock.
Problem of success, or no problem at all? Only time will tell.