Monday, October 03, 2011

Finish What You Start--Or Not?

First, some bits and pieces. Thanks to my new followers and "likers." I'm slowly approaching my goal of 500 followers and 250 "likes."

I've decided to go more "formal" with my quarterly newsletter. Previously, I'd just emailed my small list of contacts with updates about what was going on, both with my writing and my new life up in the Colorado mountains. I confess to being lax about keeping the list up to date, and it did take time to add people manually and delete the bounced emails and those who chose to unsubscribe.

I found a company that meets my very limited budget and has excellent customer service (since I'm a newbie.) I sent my Fall newsletter out, with only one glaring error—the URL to this blog! If you want to receive my updates, there's a sign up form on my blog, which will get you added to the mailing list, which saves me some time. The next issue won't come out until January.

Next, I'm a guest over at Cassie Exline's blog today. Although she writes hot, there's nothing steamy about my answers to her interview questions, so take a moment and pop over there, and don't panic if you have to confirm you're old enough to enter her blog.

And because I'm sure you're wondering why I've got a picture of Brussels sprouts on this post--on to today's topic: Do you finish what you start?

Like countless other children, I was encouraged—with the instilled fear that children all over the world might starve otherwise—to finish whatever my mother put on my plate. Most of the time, I liked her fare, but like countless other children, there were some things I found less palatable than others. Veggies often fell into this category. Still, we were expected to eat them. Not understanding how not finishing Brussels sprouts could cause the death of children in China, but not wanting their demise on my conscience, I'd do my best to eat what was put in front of me. My strategy was always to get the yuckiest stuff out of the way first, then move on to the good tastes, which were the ones I wanted to be left with.

The 'clean your plate' mentality has carried over into my reading. Until recently, I finished virtually every book I started, even if I didn't like it much. I feel that way about the selections of the book club I joined recently. These are books that I normally wouldn't have picked to read, but it's interesting to listen to the discussions, and to follow them, I need to read the book myself. So far, most of those books have been "vegetables" to me, and I try to read them quickly to get them out of the way.

Not long ago, someone gave me a formula for how much of a book to read before casting it aside, which has assuaged some of the guilt of not finishing a book. You subtract your age from 100, and that's how many pages you "owe" the author. So, the older we get, the faster an author has to hook us.

One of the best features of e-books is that virtually any e-book store will allow you to download a sample. When you get to the end of the sample, if you're hooked, you can click the 'buy' link and keep going. If you're not, then you move on to the next one, guilt free.

Then there are the free books. For some reason, I've only recently been able to abandon one that hasn't grabbed me. They seem different from the samples, because they don't stop after a few chapters. There are all those pages left, and I still have that nagging compulsion to read them all. But I'm getting better about not feeling guilty when I decide the book isn't for me.

Do you clean your plate when you read? Or do you sneak those veggies into your napkin and hide them when Mom isn't looking?

Come back tomorrow when my guest, Lynn Rush, is talking about writing to music. She's giving away a book, so be sure to check it out.

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Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

No, I'm a picky reader. I'll give a book a few chapters and then put it down if it doesn't grab me. My TBR list is so huge that there's always another book to read.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Excellent post, Terry. I stop reading if a book doesn't grab me after a few chapters. I don't have time to force myself to read a book I don't enjoy.

LOVE Brussels Sprouts, by the way. My favorite veggie.

Margaret Fieland said...

When I was in high school, I *always* finished any book I started. Now -- nope. There's too much I want to read, and too few hours to read it in. If I don't get "into" the book after a reasonable number of pages, or if I find something about it majorly annoying, I put it down. If I bought it, I pass it on, if I borrowed it, I return it.

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - I have to get over my guilt.

Sue-Ellen - I love most veggies, too. Except beets. I've tried. Can't get into them. Thanks for stopping by.

Madcapmaggie - Yeah, in high school, I think we HAD to finish books. I've got one I'm not liking on my NOOK, and I'll sneak back to it--maybe hoping it'll live up to the hype I saw in reviews.

Patricia Stoltey said...

These days I don't always give an author more than 10 pages (and a movie more than 10 minutes) to please me. There are just too darned many wonderful books (and movies) out there to waste my time forcing myself through another chapter or scene. No guilt.

Amanda Jeanette said...

I still remember the first book I didn't finish. Junior high. Oh, the guilt. Oh, the drama. I remember more about that book than any other I read before it.

But once broken, the spell couldn't be recast. If a book isn't doing it for me, it's gone.

I'm sure part of the ease comes from a few year long hobby of fan fiction reading... come across enough drivel and you'll learn to skim, skip, and and scream and then, finally, overcome any qualms about tossing a piece of writing in the DNF pile.

Terry Odell said...

Patricia--Hubster and I agree to give a Netflix movie 15 minutes--that way, we don't have to agree on which movies to order; we can pick our own preferences and then the other isn't obligated to watch more than 15 minutes.

Amanda-ah, I learned the writing craft by writing fan fiction. When I look at what I wrote, I'm amazed anyone ever finished reading them.