The older I get, the less patience I have for crappy books.* I’m not sure if this is a product of lessened free time or just a symptom of my oncoming crotchety-old-lady-ness, but, either way, I’m far more likely to put down a book that’s not doing it for me now than I used to be. Once upon a time, I’d have to finish it, just to find out what happened, even if I didn’t really care what happened. I hated leaving things undone. Now I’ll drop it like a hot rock and find a better way to spend my time. I do take note of exactly when and why I stopped reading, though.
Not that I regret all that time I spent reading things that were questionable at best. If nothing else, I learned what not to do from them.
I remember the way it would go.:I’d be reading a book, and something would happen, and I’d find myself thinking, That’s not how that should have gone down.
And then: I can do better.
And I’d go on to make up an alternate story in my head.** One that I found more appealing. I never really did anything with those bits and pieces, but they were still useful. It was the early form of story awareness. Of knowing how things should go for the most impact. What I was really doing was building my own skills by using someone else’s failures. It was like watching a hundred YouTube videos of people attempting a skate jump until I thought: Right. I know what they’re doing wrong. I won’t do that.
And for the most part I didn’t. I made other, newer mistakes. Some of which were even more spectacular failures. But at least I wasn’t repeating someone else’s problems.
I’m not going to go back to finishing crappy books. My patience is just too limited. But I’ll always remember the lessons I learned back when I had to finish them all.
Because if I’m going to fuck up, it’s going to be my fuck up. And, man, it’s going to be epic.
*For crappy anything, really. Food, movies, games, people…the mental math of ‘is this worth my time?’ has grown ever more stringent.
**I’m aware that this is the basis for most fan fiction.