Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Too Heavy?

One of the issues I’ve had with folks reading my work is getting them to finish it.  I’ve got a couple of friends that have had WrongfulDeath or Salvation Day for a while, yet they haven’t completed them.  I thought at first it was because I sucked as a writer.  I assured my beta-readers that I wouldn’t hold it against them if they thought I stunk, because that was something I needed to know(actually, why it sucked).  They weren’t going to hurt my feelings, since I needed their input to get better.

However, after much coaxing, I discovered that it wasn’t the style of writing that prevented them from finishing – it was the content.  Some didn’t like the questions about God, or the emotions raised by tragedy.  As one person put it, “Some of the questions and doubts your book created in me made me very uncomfortable.”

In other words, I was making them think too much.

I suppose I should take it as a compliment without getting too big an ego over what they said.  Some of my stuff can be probing, and it’s designed to make folks question their underlying foundations, but if I can’t get them to push through that, I might as well go back to writing simplistic plots with mundane characters.  This will sound like bragging, even though not intended as such, but is it possible for writing to be too smart?

This is maddening.  I realize that I’m an effete snob, but I don’t know how to pare back my writing.  Surely most people can’t be so insecure that mere ideas make them question their core beliefs.  Isn’t a good story supposed to make you think?  What good is a book that lets your brain go on auto-pilot?

Yes, yes, I know…this is like lamenting that my wallet isn’t big enough to fit all my cash or that I’m too strong to play football, and it will be written off as conceit by most, but this really has me concerned.  I want people to enjoy my stories.  I want them to think and question, but writing such does me no good if I can’t get people to actually read what I wrote.  I’ve had faith for decades that people are smarter and want more of a challenge than TV portrays them, but am I wrong?  Am I too big a nerd?  What does it take to get folks to plow through?

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