by Nic Olson
Nobody reads anymore.
My book, in my mind, is written for the ultimate casual reader. Short chapters. Easy topics. Non-fiction. Penis jokes. Swears. I may start counting the number of people that have told me that they haven’t finished my book. It is large. I’m guessing half of those I sold. And I don’t blame the readers as much as I blame the writer, I can think of thirty-thousand things I’d rather read and I’d suggest you read instead, however the inability to finish a book written by a child who pretends to be adult, strikes me. Makes me sad in both the ‘yeah, I can’t write‘ kind of way, and also the ‘yeah, people can’t read‘ kind of way.
I am in a current struggle editing stories. The phase I dread more than anything. The one that reminds me of why I hated English in school, and why I quit. One person who would think they could see the goddamn rings of Jupiter, a person that I asked to help, and is helping greatly. Stories are difficult enough, and when I write them in hopes that they are suitable for people that don’t like to read, I must do something even greater. Appeal to those that don’t care while making it interesting for those that do. A daunting task even for a practiced wordsmith. I’m hooped. But it was Vonnegut who told me to write for one person.
“If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
Vonnegut said, “Nobody reads anymore” when describing a book I’ve never read. I don’t have the balls to say that phrase with authority. I’m not well-read enough. Later on in his introduction he says that a short story, “because of its physiological and psychological effects on a human being, is more closely related to Buddhist styles of meditation than it is to any other form of narrative entertainment.” Nobody reads because nobody has to. Entertainment has technologically surpassed it. Digitally we are limited to reading infinitesimal posts and our attention span suffers for it. Nobody reads because nobody can bring themselves to sit down for a minute and meditate like a Buddhist.
Vonnegut’s first rule of Creative Writing states that a story should be written so that the reader will not think their time had been wasted. I guess that is where my first book went wrong, and so far, every story I’ve ever written, or anything I’ve ever done. Wasting time in a creative manner is no better than wasting time in a destructive manner. I guess I’m searching out the place where wasting time becomes being productive. Wasting my time and yours. I guess I’m searching the person who decides that.
I hope I’m not that person.