I normally would make a confession on Confessions from Suite 500, but I'm working on a new First Page Shooter for that blog today. In fact, after you read this, you should go check it out!
So here is my confession:
I am not a fast reader.
I know, I know! I work in publishing. I work with some of the speediest speed readers I've ever seen. But I'm just not that fast. And I've never admitted it in public before, because being a fast reader is the type of thing that people expect of an agent.
Well. I'm just not.
But that doesn't mean that I don't love reading. I do. So much so, that I've made it a huge part of my life.
A good story is good for the soul.
Because I'm not so fast, I like to keep my client list on the smaller side of average. I'm working with some incredible writers, and I love, love their respective styles. I want to have time to read each manuscript they send me closely, not quickly. I find that the times when I am forced to read quickly, I miss things. Not big things like plot and character moments, but I miss the subtleties of the language, the creative use of the words, and even lines that later become my favorite upon second or third read.
And those are usually the parts that take me from "This is a decent story" to "This is AMAZING!"
I say that as an agent, and as a reader.
I read the article by Katie Crouch in Slate.
Although I don't appreciate the overall sarcastic jabs she takes at YA as a genre, (in fact, a number of authors have responded quite perfectly on that matter, Last Leigh, and Oh, Courtney to name a couple), I do understand what she means by the generally fast turnaround that has been the expectation of authors lately.
But Katie got this wrong here--this is not just happening in YA. Aside from two specific fiction genres (literary and epic--whether it be epic fantasy, sci-fi or historical), I've seen the same quick-quick-quick pace happening across the board. And it's been getting faster.
Where is this coming from?
I have my theories, as do others, and they all make good points. The digital age has created a shift in how quickly we can communicate, write, edit, market to a wide audience--everything. And not just for books. People are getting used to instant gratification with everything. And when it's not there right away, they move on. Right?
But here's the rub. At least for me.
Stories are not like other products. They aren't put together in a factory. They aren't told and written by an entire department of people. And all of the advertising in the world isn't going to make a story have lasting power.
It may take an entire team to get a book published, but publishing a book is NOT the same as telling a story. And before anything else, stories are told by just one or two people (if you have a co-author).
They take time to create and unfold just right. And rushing them only shows in the writing eventually if not immediately--the writers have less time to hone their craft, to focus on the prose, to weave everything together; the editors and agents-who-edit have less time to really dig deep into the characters, plots and themes. And the story will eventually suffer for it.
So what do we do in a time when the audience is looking for instant gratification?
I haven't found the answer yet, but I do know I'm digging my heels in a bit on rushing things when I know it will affect the work.
What are your thoughts on all of this as writers/readers/industry persons/whatever?