Recently I’ve noticed that there are a lot of books creeping their way into my line of vision written in a present tense narrative. Now, I’m all for the first person perspective, in fact I’ve written several books that way myself..the thing I just can’t seem to get into is reading everything exactly as it’s happening in current time. It bugs me. It makes me feel rushed. I don’t like it. Period.
What I’m wondering now is, is this a new thing or have these books always been out there and I just never noticed? I mean, I don’t know how I would have missed them all this time. Granted, I’ve read considerably less in the last ten years than I did in the fifteen before that. Somehow reading took a backseat…well, more like the trunk…hell, who am I kidding, these days reading time has taken to being strapped to the top of my SUV. It’s the only spot not taken. That’s life. Grown up- responsibilities- parenting – life. Reading for me means sacrificing sleep, which I’ll gladly do for the right book, but let’s be real, I don’t have that much sleep to sacrifice to begin with.
Which brings me to my second observation. This has more to do with me than the books…I think. I used to devour books. I mean, just suck up every last little detail, turning each page hungry for more until I reached the very last page and even then, I often found myself still starving, wishing there had been even MORE. If it was a series, forget about it. I’d be an antsy mess, anticipating the moment I could get my hands on the next one. Mind you, this was in my younger days. My ‘I’m single and carefree days and if I want to dedicate an entire day to reading no one will stop me, or interrupt me or need anything from me’ – days.
Those days are long gone. However, my love for reading is not. So, there I lay at night, while everyone else is asleep, letting my eye balls race through the words on the screen of my tablet, indulging in one of my almost extinct, favorite past times. Which brings me to my rather disturbing discovery. I have taken to skimming. I can’t recall a book I have read in the last six months (except for one – but I’ll get to that momentarily) that I haven’t scrolled through huge chunks of the story, bypassing page after page in search of the parts I deemed worth reading. Sad. Pathetic. And I’m using those words on myself. The reader in me is sad…and pathetic.
At first I blamed it on the fact that I had limited time. I mean, when I decide to read, I basically have to get through the book in one sitting because there’s no telling when I will have time again to get back to it. Hence the currently reading bookshelf I have on Goodreads filled with books I started reading two years ago and never got back to because I made the mistake of stopping. But I digress. So, yeah, I told myself, “Hey, it’s okay. These are the corners you have to cut to get to read at all. It’s okay though, you’re still getting the most important parts of the story this way.”
Then, several books into my skimming habit, I had a horrible realization. What if people are doing the same thing when they read MY books?? Devastated with the thought, I took my concerns to my mother. Yes, I realize she’s my mom and will tell me exactly what I want to hear. That’s why I went to her.
After assuring me that my books are amazing (thanks Mom!) and that no one would ever skim over anything I write (Love you Mom!) she did point out something worth mentioning. There are still books I will not skim! Books that are my all time favorites, that I know inside and out and have read several times, I still read and re-read word for word every time. Because I LOVE them. I CRAVE them. I STARVE for them.
Then, the thing I realized as I came to write this post is that there’s one more noticeable difference and that is that the books I skim and scroll on make it easy. They’re eBooks. All it takes is one little swipe of the finger to bypass a couple thousand words and keep reading. It’s just too damn doable not to read everything and I wonder how I would have handled it had it been in print the way I read my favorites. Because if I love a book, I don’t want the eBook version. I want to hold it in my hands. Turn the pages as I go. Even carry it with me when I go out in case I happen to stumble upon some reading time somewhere along the way.
In closing, I’m sincerely hoping the present tense narrative thing has always been there and I was just lucky enough to evade it all these years, because if it’s yet another NA – Steamy Sex – book boyfriends that make me want to gag with heroines that make me want to punch- writing fad, then I’m totally screwed. Writing in present tense is another thing you can add to the list of things you’ll never find in my books. I can’t do it. I don’t like it. It won’t happen. May my sales suffer for it as long as I don’t have to suffer through it.
So, there’s my rant for the day. And while it probably seems all over the place, truth is it’s far more of a disaster of jumping thoughts than you can imagine since the original issue that fueled my post never even made it into writing…probably better that way though.
Last but not least, do I think I’m a starve worthy writer who holds their reader’s attention from beginning to end? Maybe, maybe not… but I’d like to think that I may be one someday. And when it happens, it will have been on my terms. Writing what was true to me and not what the market called for. Because while writing has become my business, it is and always will be, first and foremost my art. And I’m sorry, but there is no such thing as mass produced, market inspired, fad induced ART.