Every Writer and Every Reader

“A recent survey issued by Scholastic, the 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report, found that 43 percent of the children ages 9-11 believe the most important outcome of reading books for fun is to open up the imagination. 62 percent of the same demographic say they read books for fun “to be inspired by storylines and characters.” For a group whose numbers were clearly dwindling in the 1990s, it is not surprising that the release of an incredibly imaginative story coincided with a dramatic revival or readership.” McSweenys’s Internet Tendency

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and how it translates into Indie publishing and books.

What makes a book good? Being grammatically and technically correct? Good story? Good characters? All of the above?

I’ve read grammatically correct books that bored the snot out of me. *cough* Alas, Babylon *cough*

Yet, the more I write the more grammar becomes important to me. Trying to read a poorly written book is like watching a fuzzy TV show. Can’t. Do. It.

Does that make me pretentious? Picky? Discerning? Maybe…

I don’t know anymore because I’ve realized that not everyone will (or want to) read at my level. The average reading level of America is around 4th-6th grade. On one hand I think that’s sad, and would encourage people to improve themselves. But what if they can’t? What if they have difficulty reading for various, valid reasons, but want to read. What if they want to escape into a good story, but learning disabilities or physical ailments make it too stressful or even impossible? Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and God, but to say that everyone is equally blessed with health or ability is ignorant or ignoring the realities of the world.

So what if all the books that had been previously Trad. published were JUST TOO HARD FOR SOME PEOPLE? What if that were true? What then?

And now, now we have this new age when anyone can publish. At first glance many scream TRAVESTY. What will the unwashed masses do to the literary world? *gasp!* But reading numbers throughout the public are up for the first time in decades. Why is that?

Maybe because some people now have stories to read at a level that they can comprehend. I’m not saying this to be cruel or hurtful, but to be honest. I read and retain information at a very high level. So high that when I used to write medical papers, my boss had to ask me to ‘dumb them down’ since I was writing for paramedics not doctors. So high that before my health was screwed up a bit by miscarriages, I had almost a perfect memory. I could remember the most minute, mundane things to the most complex. I still write all my stories without outlines. Straight from my head to computer. And for those of you who’ve read my work, you know how complex my plots tends to be.

But the reality is not everyone reads at the same level. Not everyone is blessed (and cursed- LOL!) with my ability. Should I expect those who, for whatever reason, cannot read at my level to only be able to purchase college level novels? Or even high school? Should we, as Indie authors, judge those ‘lesser’ than us because their writing or reading ability is lesser? I’m not talking about reviewing books. I’m talking about this growing trend of us vs. them in the Indie community. The authors who write good books vs the authors who write bad books. Who is to be the judge and executioner? You? Me?

It’s not a job I want.

So what about those with more difficult issues but with a desire to read? Shouldn’t they get to have good stories to enjoy? Just because I don’t care to read them doesn’t mean someone else won’t love them.

Shouldn’t we be embracing all levels of writing, no matter how amateur they appear because they may just find their audience? Isn’t the true beauty the fact that people are expressing themselves and others are discovering them? That more people at every level are finally, FINALLY reading.

Maybe that’s why more people are reading…

Just maybe.

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