When words get in my way

American Author Ernest Hemingway aboard his Ya...
You don’t have to be the next Ernest Hemingway to sell a ton of books.

Are you over-educated? Do you ever feel like your over-educated mind gets in the way of you enjoying activities that you used to love? Does it seem like your brain analyzes everything you read whether you want it to or not? Believe it or not, this happens to me. I used to love to read, but I have recently found myself incapable of finishing a book due to my brain’s insistence on over-analyzing every word I read.

Before I returned to school to pursue a master’s degree in professional writing, I used to be able to read four or five books a week. I could tear through each book and really enjoy each one without giving much thought as to how well-written they were. But these days, my over-educated brain seems to get in the way of me enjoying a hobby that used to be my favorite way to pass the time.

For example, I recently decided to read 50 Shades of Grey to see what the hype is all about. I knew going into the experience that the book wasn’t likely to be very well written. I didn’t buy the book because I was looking for an example of good writing to follow. No, I bought it because I occasionally enjoy a nice, trashy romance novel and thought this might be an entertaining read.

But, every time I open the novel, all I can think is, “WHY in the world did she write this entire book in present tense?” Or, “How many times can she use the word, ‘delectable’ in one chapter?” (‘Delectable,’ by the way, is a classic trashy romance novel word and should never be used unless you are purposely trying to sell your novel to Harlequin.)

Why can’t I make my brain shut up and just allow me to enjoy a book for its entertainment value without having to pick it apart? It’s obvious to anyone with enough brain cells to read a book that there are many on the market today that offer excellent entertainment value despite the fact that they are poorly written (Twilight comes to mind.)

We all know 50 Shades is not the next “Great American Novel.” A book doesn’t necessarily need to be well-written to captivate an audience of millions. You don’t have to be the next Ernest Hemingway to make a killing working as a writer. The fact is, a book is “good” if its reader enjoys it, no matter how poorly written it may be.

I wonder if I will ever be able to write a “good” book myself. Perhaps the answer to my problem might be to find a job working as a book critic so I can at least get paid to tear apart every book I read and point out how bad it is. Then I might have some incentive to finish reading an entire book!

Find out what books I’m reading and what I recommend at Miss Mandy’s Recommended Reads.

~Mandy Webster

3 thoughts on “When words get in my way”

  1. I have the same problem. It’s kind of like once you learn to read, you can’t not read a word when you see letters strung together. Now I can’t read anything without seeing the technical aspect of the writer’s choices.

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  3. When I got out of grad school (MA in comp lit) I could no longer read for pleasure. It took me over a year before I picked up a book again for pleasure… and then for a while all I could read was comics, manga, and graphic novels. It took a while but now I can enjoy a junky book again. 🙂

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