Thursday, January 20, 2011

When It's Time to Let Go...

I am having a really hard time right now. I recently bought a book by a favorite author that I’m nearly finished with and no lie it’s bringing me to tears… and not in the good way.

Of course I’m not going to name this author directly - I mean who am I to cause a Google alert to pop up somewhere and that says someone diss’ed your work. What I will say is that the author is successful, well respected in the industry and even if I did name her I know my comments won’t matter to her current fans. But the truth is she’s breaking my heart a little.

I have loved this author for years. A personal triumph of mine is that I have every single category book she ever wrote under every name she wrote them even the ones that NO one knows about. I have this four book continuing romance series that might as well be gold sitting on my keeper shelf – I’m sure it’s that rare. When she took chances I was there. When she switched genres I was there.

When I pass her in the halls at RWA conferences… I have this tendency to want to bow.

But lately it’s just been harder and harder to read her newest releases. Her most recent – I’m sorry but it is a hot mess.

The story is all over the place, the sex is boring and you can tell she just wants to get through the scene rather than really explore what’s happening emotionally and physically. Emotion – heck there is no real emotional development between the characters at all. They’re just suddenly in love. The dialogue is clunky and while these should be contemporary characters they do not sound like anything remotely resembling a contemporary person living in 2011.

This woman was my inspiration. She’s the reason why I wanted to write romance. This author in particular for me I put ahead of Nora because I found her first. I felt like the smartest person alive when I picked her off a shelf of all the other “red” books and then she went on to become famous. I said… “That’s right… I know talent when I read it.”

But now my heart is broken because I don’t know how I can keep reading her. These last books of hers that I’ve read… well, they are just not for me anymore. Maybe you get to a point where you can’t read an author anymore. That tipping point where they’ve told you every story they have as many times as you can handle it.

She was my comfort read. My go to buy. My never let me down author. And now I feel like if I read her anymore I’ll start to forget how great those older books were.

I think I need to let go. I feel strangely bereft. Yes, there are new authors out there to find but this woman is my reading history. And just once more I would love to capture the thrill of what it was like to read her best work. I guess that's why I keep going back. Maybe this time will be different…

Does that happen to all of us? Are we all headed to a period in time where some innocuous blogger somewhere might say… “Yeah that last Stephanie Doyle booked sucked. It’s the same story over and over again. I’m done with her.”

Of course… this means someone would actually have to read a Stephanie Doyle book.

Anybody else have this kind of experience?


Karen Whiddon said...

Steph, I've had to do this with several big authors over the years. And two of them broke my heart also - I have every single flippin' book they ever wrote.

I won't name names either. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

For me, it's been a matter of me changing in my reading tastes, I think. There's only one author I've read everything she's ever written - I've followed her from genre to genre.

But my list of all-time favorite books are often the only book that I love from an author - now that's disappointing. You love this one book so much and so you think you'll read everything they've ever written and the others just don't click with you.

And I agree with you - we don't need to name names.

Maureen McGowan said...

You know, I think we should all get a chance to fail once and a while.

I've had that experience more with filmmakers. M. Night has broken my heart more than once, but I'm still hopeful every time I hear he has a new film. But I admit not in the way I was before Lady in the Water...

Stephanie Doyle said...


That's interesting. For me once I like someone's book - I try to read everything from that author hoping I'm going to get the same. I think I fall in love with the voice and I find that can carry over.

But then again sometimes they just hit with that book and then everything else seems like a disappointment.

Eileen said...

I think we all have themes that we return to over and over, whether or not we mean to, but I also think that's different from writing the same story again and again.

The pressure is so high to write two, three books a year, I think eventually we get a little threadbare. I don't know what the answer is. There is no way to support a family on one book a year for a midlist author, but I wonder if I'll ever be anything but if I can't take the time to make my stories as fabulous as I want them to be.

And absolutely no naming names on things like this. I totally agree with that.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Yes - no names. But film directors and stars I think we can agree are exempt!

I'm not likely to run into M.Night at the next RWA conference so I can agree with Maureen... although for me Maureen it was The Happening rather than Lady in the Water.

How did M. Night watch that movie and say to himself... yeah, this is good.

And Eileen I agree repeatable themes isn't the issue. That will always be there. And those themes often times are part of the experience I'm buying.

It's just that I can see the pace with which this book was written. The time that was taken to do it. These "big" books sometimes come off as a first draft at best.

I can see it a lot actually in "big time" authors. They hit it big... then suddenly the quality has to drop off. And I get it. Authors are now called upon to deliver more and fast.

In part it makes me also angry at the publisher and the editor. I guess the bottom line is when you get to a certain point $$$ drives the publishing train rather than creation.

Eileen said...

Oh, yeah. We can totally diss M. Night. For that matter, Calista FLockhart and Jim Carrey give me the heebie jeebies, too. THey don't even have to open their mouths.

Now that aside, I know exactly what you mean about the quality slipping. Or maybe it's not even the quality, maybe it's the heart. We are all, at a certain level, craftspeople and we know how to construct a sentence (although sometimes I wonder about myself).

What tends to be missing is the feeling of authenticity. In the post you talk about really exploring the emotion of the scene. I agree, that's what really gets lost.

Maureen McGowan said...

Yes, I'm not as worried about criticizing Hollywood writers as novelists. Might be a double standard, but it's mine. :)

That said, the director of Lymelife e-mailed me after I blogged about his movie a few years ago. Freaked me out. But was also kind of cool.

I'm currently trying to decide whether to comment on the book blogs that have listed my upcoming releases as to be reviewed. Is that stalkerish or friendly. Can't decide.

I didn't even go to see The Happening, Steph (or the Airbender one) so perhaps I have given up on M. Night. Lady in the Water was the last one I saw...

Eileen said...

I usually post a thank you for good reviews, but ignore the bad ones.

Sinead M said...

It's so sad when an author you love breaks your heart. It's happened to me as well.

But Steph, I've read a book recently you might enjoy. The Iron King. Not to be confused with the Iron Duke.
A great YA.

Molly O'Keefe said...

All the time!!! All the time!! Authors I've loved who have fallen off my radar for no other reason but that the thrill was gone. We are the hardest customers to please - without a doubt - and your favorite author has probably written your favorite book - there's simply no way they can match that time and time again - or bring something new to the table each time.

And I often find those old books that made me love the genre - should I read them now, it just doesn't work, so as not only my tastes have changes, but I've grown up - those things I loved aren't going to be so lovely any more.

I agree don't name names, but I will be emailing you off loop....

Stephanie Doyle said...

Sinead thanks for the recommendation! I've already got it plugged into my wish list.

Rebecca said...

I understand about the no names thing. And I agree. But damn...I wish I knew which author you were talking about.

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