Writing Advice

What happens when an author reads a classic but doesn’t like it?

There’s an unwritten rule that says the literary world possesses certain books all authors must love and laud (even if secretly, they’ve never read them).

Just like a painter who doesn’t like Picasso or Monet, or a classical musician who doesn’t like Bach or Mozart, if an author doesn’t like a book that’s been deemed a classic, then he must be unrefined, or worse . . . uncivilized.

In my case I’d been wanting to read a particular book for a few years, not just because it was a book that I was interested in, but also because I heard other readers rave about this literary work, and it was oftentimes referenced by other authors in their books, articles, and essays, especially as it related to the current times we live in.

So, a few years ago I finally purchased the book, moved it from my to-read list to my currently reading list, sat down in a comfy chair, and prepared to embark on the incredible journey this book was sure to take me on — an adventure that many had traversed before me.

But there was only one problem.

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Writing Advice

What happens when a writer reads a classic and doesn’t like it?

Last summer I read a classic that I had been wanting to read for a while. I began the journey through its pages with great hope and anticipation only to quickly find myself slugging through the prose, disappointed in not only how the story was written but in the story itself.

imageLet down, I drudged along expecting the story to get better but it never did. Like the man in a dental chair enduring a root canal, I found myself wanting the whole experience to be over as quickly as possible but the ending took an excruciatingly long time to come, and when it did arrive it failed to make up for everything preceding it.

The book never resonated with me, never moved me, and quite frankly, failed to interest me. And what made the whole experience even more frustrating is that I had expected that I was going to like the book.

So what does that make me? A writer who doesn’t like a classic book?

Maybe I’d be better off not pursuing a writing career, similar to the kid who passes out at the sight of blood should not list “doctor” as one of the things he wants to do when he grows up.

imageHave I done the unthinkable in the literary world? Should I have kept this dark secret to myself and not shared it publicly? I felt like I should be banished to an island void of all books for this egregious transgression.

But then I had a moment of clarity. I realized that what makes me different is what makes me unique. And aren’t some of the best writers some of the most unique writers? Yeah, that’s me. I’ve never quite fit into a mold so why should I try to now?

So I will put this unthinkable crime behind me and move onward, writing the stories that I would want to read (and hopefully that you would want to read too).

Oh, and in case you were wondering what the book was, it was Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.