Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A Little Craziness
"Everyone in the whole world is crazy, except thee and me--and sometimes I wonder about thee." It was a popular saying when I was a teenager and sometimes I find myself thinking it today. Am I the only one who wonders if the world has gone a bit crazy?
Take our international economic situation! I took economic classes. I've studied finance from corporate bookkeeping to balancing my own checkbook and I can't see how we can spend our way out of debt. Sure purchasing goods; spending is essential to a healthy economy, but so is saving. Somehow our financial well-being has been twisted so that a person's ability to borrow matters more than the ability to pay one's own way. People determine their financial worth by their credit card limit instead of actual dollars in the bank. Poverty occurs when the credit cards are maxed out and the mortgage company forecloses. Savers who consistently squirrel away small sums of money for years to make major purchases, meet emergencies, or to provide a comfortable retirement are reaping .02% or less on their pitiful savings. What has happened to the economic laws I once knew?
Advertising constantly assures us we "deserve" this or that. I don't get that premise. No one "deserves" any of life's luxuries or even much of what many consider necessities. We don't buy cars, clothes, houses, or take vacations because we deserve them, but because we worked for the money to purchase them. We only "deserve" those inalienable rights given us by God--life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Supreme Court says taking God's name publicly in vain is a constitutional right, but addressing God in prayer in public is a crime. It seems free speech has become a bit one-sided.
A man can be fired from his job for tackling a shoplifter, but it's all right for the store to increase the cost we all must pay to cover the loss from pilfered goods.
It's all right to dump piles of rocks, guaranteed to blow a tire or twist an ankle if accidently stepped on or driven over, in median strips in most neighborhoods, but it's illegal to plant vegetables in that space. A yard full of rocks and weeds is a good thing?
Occasionally my husband and I watch a television program that shows people purchasing houses, condos, or apartments. Sometimes we laugh at the unrealistic expectations of people who expect four bedrooms, a man cave, three baths, a modern kitchen, and a pool for $160,000. Other times we're amazed to see people who think they got an amazing bargain because they purchased a pile of rubble for over a million dollars. People gush over ugly tile, rave over weird wall paper, or turn their noses up over perfectly good, attractive, but slightly outdated fixtures. We shake our heads and say there's no accounting for tastes, good sense, or the odd quirks of the human mind.
Which brings me around to the business of writing. All of these elements of common sense--or lack there-of-- tastes, imagination, moral sense, realistic aspects, preferences play a part in both the creation and the consumption of novels. Whether consciously or not, a writer creates characters and actions that follow his/her own beliefs, standards, and sense of right and wrong. The reader brings his/her own set of values to those pages. Sometimes there is a happy meeting of minds between writer and reader, but sometimes it's a poor match. We've all had someone rave about how wonderful a book is, then when we pick it up, expecting a great read, only to find it lackluster, boring, so so, or even repugnant.
The world is a bit crazy; perhaps it always has been, but just as the people on that home buying show find the best bargains when they do some preparation, we can get the best bargain for our reading and writing enjoyment if we take the time to do a little preparation. Writers who are perfectly clear on who they are writing for find their writing niche most easily. A romance writer knows her audience wants romantic tension between a deserving couple who overcome great odds and end up in a committed relationship. Mystery and suspense readers want to be puzzled, scared a bit, then reach a satisfying solution to the puzzle. A writer who wants to write for the LDS market needs to write within the parameters of LDS standards. Deciding LDS readers need to "lighten up", accept more sexually explicit content and X-rated expletives is only going to attract like-minded readers, the bulk of the LDS market won't touch such books with a ten foot pole.
Many LDS readers in the past felt if they purchased a book at Deseret Book or Seagull Book (or any of the other LDS bookstore chains) it would be a good book. It might be a good book as far as maintaining standards, but no one book will meet the needs of every LDS reader. The most savvy shoppers learn some writers fill their needs better than others, some readers buy their books online, some checkout LDS books from their libraries. Keeping a list of preferred writers is a good idea, discovering which friends share similar tastes with you is helpful, reading blogs and reviews will generally give a good idea of whether or not a particular book might be enjoyable, and it's a good idea to talk to the authors at book signings . Reading will increase in the pleasure it provides as the reader discovers preferred genres and authors, but even favorites become better if there's a little craziness added for contrast now and then. Make it a policy to sample a new author or a different genre occasionally. If the new book turns out to be a pile of rubble, throw it at the wall, read something you know you'll like, and when you're ready to experiment again, do it. If you feel a wee bit crazy, you'll fit right in.