So today I am introducing you to H. David Blalock, author of Angelkiller Triad series.
He will be telling you all about his literary “pet peeves”! The title of this blog post was his own creation as well, I take no claim to it!
Are you ready?
There are three main irritations I have with today’s literature. These will probably label me as a literacy snob. So be it.
1. Disrespect of the language
As a writer and editor, I often find myself unable to read a book without automatically criticizing its grammar and structure. In fact, I have to consciously remind myself I’m picking up this book for entertainment, not business before I can enjoy it simply for what it is. In spite of that, there are some things that break through even that preparation.
With the proliferation of social networking, there has been an explosion of published writers who have forgotten how to spell simple words like “lose”, “chose”, and “breath”. Texting has generated an entire new set of abbreviations for already short words. The English language, one of the most difficult languages in the world to master, is being savaged hundreds of times a day. Maybe thousands. It seems like everyone with a telephone is guilty.
My tools of the trade are words. With those words I make sentences. With those sentences, I create stories and novels. I write commentary, reviews, and articles. Words, to me, are what makes me what I am: a writer. And those same words are being disrespected every day. The words to which we trust the recording of our lives, our history, and our beliefs are being mauled. The words we use to cherish and honor with the safe-keeping of our past, the reporting of our present, and the expression of our dreams of the future, are being reduced to phonemes and gibberish.
2. The rise of less than honest “publishing houses”
With the ready availability of new printing processes came the growth in so-called “publishers” who were perfectly willing to look at your manuscript with an eye to publication. Before print-on-demand technology made it profitable, these were few and far between. Now, however, they are more and more common as time goes by. Some are blatantly obvious frauds, most not quite so. It all comes down to the fine print.
A writer’s contract is usually a straightforward agreement that simply states the rights bought, the distribution of royalties, if any, and the responsibilities of the parties involved. Over the years, the publishing contract has achieved a more or less standard form. With the entrance of the new “publishing” houses, this standard form has taken on a less honest form. Rights are bought outright in perpetuity, or for extended periods of time. Hidden clauses in very fine print deny the writer any rights whatsoever to their work after signing. How many aspiring writers, excited that their work is finally going to see print, read the entire contract? Ask customers of PublishAmerica, or Author House, or XLibris, or iUniverse if they really looked closely. Had they known then what they know now, would they have signed on the dotted line?
3. The fall of quality in published writing
An inevitable side effect of print on demand is the publication of material that never should have seen print. The internet is rife with mediocre to horrible material in even the best of web magazines. A lot of this has to do with taste and style, immeasurable and subjective in the extreme. Even so-called journalism is not immune to this. Blogs, the inevitable manifestation of unfettered thought, are the worst. Thankfully, many blogs actually inform. The majority, however, are simply vehicles for venting to an anonymous audience; a vicarious shouting at the world. It is the reverse of voyeurism, the exhibition of one’s soul in its best and worst forms.
Writing in general has suffered. With the combination of failing grammar, increasing misspellings, and uncaring editing, the world, or at least the US, is flooded with substandard writing. From novels to websites, from magazines to roadside signs, writing is a dying artform.
In spite of these three irritations, I try to maintain an open mind toward publication. Somewhere in the future, hopefully not too far off, I hope sanity will return to publishing. Writers will once more spend time learning their trade before submitting their work for consideration. Editors will be more discerning of the talent, or lack thereof, in the work they examine. Publishers will work harder to present quality products.
The public is very forgiving when it comes to the creative arts. “I may not know art, but I know what I like” is a good way to describe how people react to what is presented to them. I think we, as writers, editors, and publishers, have a duty to the public to provide them with the best possible product so whatever they choose will be worth it.
So, there we have it!
To find out more about H. David Blalock, you can find his bio and his book, Angelkiller, here.
What about you though? What are some of your literary pet peeves?