A comparison, restaurant and book:
1. Lake District, England.
A restaurant with a water view–in town, in a charming building.
The customers–hungry for lunch, fresh off a hike.
The interior–hip and inviting.
The menu–simple enough, burgers and quesadillas.
2. My local library.
A thriller–famous name, bestseller status.
The reader–eager for knowledge and comparison.
The cover–jazzy, dark, thriller-worthy.
The menu–predictable enough, violence and espionage.
Wait time–ostensibly, none.
The writing–should be great, but…
Okay, these two examples represent, in my view, idiot-proof things. Automatic satisfaction, success had easily. Give us the grub (or story), you get your money. Yet both were screwed up.
In the restaurant (1), we ordered our food. Despite there being only two other parties (with at least 6 staff in sight) our burgers and quesadillas took an hour to arrive. (Without being a trained chef, I could’ve whipped this order up in 15 minutes.) Irritation is trying to explain to a nine-year-old, over-and-over, what could be taking so long when there’s no reason for the wait. (They were not slaughtering the cow on-site, after all.)
The likely culprit: Putting teenagers in charge of a restaurant. (I have one myself, so I recognize the M.O.) In other words, laziness.
In the book (2), I started with the opening page. The book begins with a seven-line sentence about, say, the virtues of one sniper bullet (skull-puncturing force at a premium) over another. A paragraph-length run-on sentence–an editor’s nightmare. Not art. Not describing some nuance of the human condition. No, a round of ammunition (for a villain who likely wouldn’t last past the 3rd chapter).
Book closed. No wisdom to be had.
The likely culprit: A publisher saying, after 20 bestsellers, “This guy doesn’t need any editing or proofreading.” In other words, laziness.
The End Result
Call me old-fashioned, but I feel that it’s my job to present the best-possible product (novel) I can. No run-on sentences or typos or glaring errors (a few small ones can’t be helped, I guess). Someone always needs to be minding the store. Things won’t just take care of themselves. Nothing truly is idiot-proof.
So, maybe after 20 novels, I’m lazy enough to hash out a long-winded chunk of schlock and it gets past a few sets of eyes? Then it’s time to hang up my pen, or shutter the restaurant. Do the job right or don’t do it at all. Restaurants are always hungry for money (they still have a whopping failure rate). A bestseller author has plenty of money. In either case, the drive for more cash shouldn’t fall prey to minimal effort.
Laziness reflects poorly on everyone.