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Reading Friends
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Friends don't read books by friends.

Well, it's always made sense to me.

If a friend who isn't a writer hands you a book he's written it is almost surely crap. Most unpublished books are. But if you explain this to your friend, and assure your friend that most unpublished books by published writers, written while they were learning, are crap, the only word that will register, with your friend, is "crap." That's the only word that will register even if you use a euphemism. And your friend will quite likely be your former friend. Because our books are practically ourselves.

On the other hand, if you read a published book by a friend who is a writer, what are the chances you will really enjoy it? In my own case, the chances are slim because my tastes are weird and off-center and my dislikes (or prejudices if you insist) immediately eliminate whole genres of perfectly professionally written published books. And if I explain this to my friend, even though a professional, what he or she will hear is "crap."

When it comes to readers not liking their books, writers are about as sensitive to nuance as dogs would be. Just as a dog reduces human speech to garbled noise punctuated by "Fido" (I'm sure you've seen the cartoon) human writers faced by lack of appreciation for their efforts hear basically nothing but "crap, crap, crap, book title, crap, crap."

The more discerning writer may, it is true, also discern, apart from "crap", amongst helpful criticism and disclaimers based on personal tastes, the unsatisfied reader's burning desire that the writer immediately remove himself from the world, preferably by painful means, useless wretch that he is.

Which is not the sort of thing you want writer frends to be hearing. Why risk straining a friendship? Why bring up differences in taste? As writers, you probably have a lot in common. You both endure the same struggles getting the words down, dealing with publishers and all the rest, even if one of you is writing New Age Christian inspirational novels for teens and the other is penning Nazi lesbian war bondage gore fests.

But then, maybe that's just me.

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