Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The eternal rut of authorial assumption

I think to some extent all of an author's books are the same. At least, mine are. My stories are all about found family and identifying your home base in a chaotic world. Considering I've been writing this theme my whole life, that probably isn't going to change.

Another thing that won't change: overuse of the words still and just. Sorry, those words. I hate to love you  -- and search-and-destroy you -- so much.

But the one thing that I keep doing over and over in stories and that does frustrate me and must be killed with fire is assumption. I keep assuming that the majority of readers have my brain, that they're going to share my weird sense of humor or my probably naive sense of wonder, that they'll get and appreciate the in-jokes and pop culture references, that they'll be charmed by the things that I'm charmed by, that they're going to appreciate big words and not being talked down to.

None of these assumptions has proven true in practice. Readers often say I lose them with jargon, that they just didn't get what I was trying to do there, that the pacing was bogged down by too much or too little exposition, or that the authorial structures I considered so fun and unexpected were, to them, boring and confusing.

So, like Bill Murray, I'm iterating. Learning. And someday, I'll write something sans assumptions. At that point, I'll consider sharing it with readers, crossing my fingers, and hoping to wake up, well, tomorrow.