I ate too much amazing food, and then I spent the next day feeling nauseous after throwing up. It strikes me that writing is a lot like my experience with this food, so that’s what my topic is.
(Lessons learned in no particular order, so ya know)
Lesson #1: Too much of a good thing, even though it is a good thing, is overwhelming. I ate five awesome things, and I will likely eat them again in the future. But my stomach couldn’t handle all that unadulterated grease, and so I had a nasty chemical reaction spring up and that was it. Like my stomach, books that have too much in them will leave the reader overwhelmed.
Lesson #2: Specifically, too much of a good thing is bad when it is not balanced out. I probably could have survived, if I had just managed to consume a few vegetables alongside my popcorn and cheesecake. Likewise, books with too much description/dialog/characters/awesomeness/etc will leave the reader with a bad taste in their mouth. (The fun thing about this metaphor is that it works really well because just like the proper balance will vary from person to person and meal to meal, it varies from author to author and book to book.)
Lesson #3: Even if the person doesn’t immediately realize something is bad, it will still leave a bad taste in their mouth. (Other than using common sense) I had no way to know that my meal would leave me heaving over a toilet at 4am. Bad books aren’t always easy to pinpoint (without a lot of practice with writing and analysis of that writing). It doesn’t mean that you’re wrong about a book being bad if you can’t say why. (Although it is important to remember it might just not be to your particular taste.)
Lesson #4: Not knowing what the problem means that someone still might create bad associations. There were a few hours there when my brain was informing me that I was never eating hot Italian sausage and Chinese dumplings again. I got over that pretty quickly, but writing with problems in it can leave a similar impression. If a book starts out bad but gets good, chances are people will never make it that far. And if it starts good and gets bad, it can ruin the beginning. Be consistent in your writing! Keep the readers happy, and not nauseous. (Wait, that one’s food.)
Remember that a balanced diet and balanced writing both leave people with a good night’s sleep and a happy stomach. Balance! (And also being good in the first place.)
I can’t be the only person who has been inspired by illness to write a blog post about writing! Or maybe I’m just obsessed with weird metaphors. Anyway, let me know!