I was thinking recently about a couple of very popular novels that I find unreadable, mostly for the quality of the writing itself. One, Eragon, was written by a teen, and teens responded very well to it, and a lot of them who had picked up some reading momentum from the Harry Potter books found a new series to love. I was fully on board with the enthusiasm because I believe reading just about anything is good for language development, not to mention just good for our brains and hearts in general.
The other is 50 Shades of Grey, which was originally written as Twilight fan fiction. When the author got really good feedback from her audience (that is, people who read fanfic), she restructured her story with original characters so she could sell it independently, and now she’s filthy stinking rich. I know a lot of middle-aged women who haven’t picked up a popular book in many years, who read the whole 50 Shades series and dug it. Most will admit the writing is not good, and that the content is pretty fluffy, but they found it a guilty pleasure.
I’m on board with guilty pleasures as well.
But while I can enjoy mediocre writing, truly bad writing is really difficult to endure. I get distracted by thoughts about the editor (who edited this? what was he or she thinking?), the writer, the audience, and all kinds of stuff like that. There’s a level of bad quality past which I feel insulted as a reader. If nobody cared enough about the quality of the writing to do such simple things as run a spell-check, why should I care enough to spend three hours reading it?
This is a long introduction to my larger musings, which have centered lately around being satisfied with my consumption. While I believe I look at music, books, and other media pretty critically, in general I enjoy the stuff I let through, even if it’s just good enough. Penny has an even broader satisfaction threshold, and if I might presume, I’d say it extends to the rest of her life, too. Because Penny’s pretty satisfied with most things she encounters, she’s generally a happier, more pleasant person to be around. It helps too that she’s not as moody as I am.
I’m thinking this is a direction I want to move into, one where I can still look at things critically, but not be disapointed or dissatisfied because of their flaws. It’s possible I’ll never get to the point where I can read 50 Shades of Grey, but what if that’s where the line is? It must be possible to continually seek excellence without being disappointed by its absence.
What do you guys think? How satisfied and dissatisfied are you with the stuff you consume? Websites, TV, music, movies, food? Do these things generally make you happier or less happy, and does it matter?