I've been mulling this about for weeks. And today I'm feeling just snarky enough to write about it.
If you hate me, you hate me. If you love me, then I guess you always did. *wink*
It's like this. We all have different tastes in books--genre, voice, storyline, author. One man's trash is another man's treasure, so to speak.
We're also in a process of trying-to-get-noticed-while-wondering-why-others-get-noticed-first. Not in a bitter sort of way (at least not for me), but rather in an honest, and sometimes frustrated, WHY? sort of way.
We wonder why an author who doesn't write very well gets published, and we decide it's because the story was timely or well plotted or just commercial enough to grab the attention (and wallets) of the masses.
We wonder why an author who writes quite well has an obscure, midlist book lost in the cracks of a dusty shelf of a library, and we're not sure we have a ready answer.
And, of course, we wonder if our own writing will ever "measure up" -- whatever that may mean.
Whatever "good writing" may mean to each individual, I'm willing to agree that we will all have different opinions. And that's okay. That's what makes the market--and literature itself--so diverse.
When I read a novel by a bestselling author--a many times over bestselling author--that is rife with grammatical errors, my patience runs out. Completely.
I'm certain there is no such thing as a PERFECT book. As in, the author-copyeditor team didn't miss a thing. Not a missing semicolon. Not a teensy spelling error.
I'm not that delusional.
I'm not talking about the odd error, though. I'm talking about egregious grammatical errors. Seven of them, to be exact.
That's right. I've recently read a novel (by a bestselling author) that contained SEVEN MISUSES OF THE VERB "LAY".
That's right. Seven.
I'm sorry. I don't have the time of day for this. Sure, the plotting was brilliant. Even the cover is beautiful. But misusing the verb LAY? SEVEN TIMES?
First of all, I'm certain the copyeditor must've seen these errors. Must've. If she didn't, she's in the wrong profession. So let's give her the benefit of the doubt and say that, yes, she marked them. All seven.
That puts the onus back on the author. Either he a) marked them all "stet" or b) never got back to the copyeditor with final approval.
Now let's turn the tables. Let's say (though I find it hard to believe) that the copyeditor missed precisely seven misuses of the verb LAY.
No, I can't go there. I can't imagine that kind of sloppiness. Lack of basic grammar skills, even.
And if the copyeditor missed them, it bothers me to no end that the writer WROTE SO POORLY IN THE FIRST PLACE.
I'm sorry. It has to be said.
I know the lay/lie confusion has permeated society at all levels. Grammar books devote entire chapters to figuring out the difference. Blows my mind, but there you have it.
Nevertheless, if you are a WRITER, for goodness's sake, you'd better know your basic grammar. As in, Grammar 101. Or, What I Should Have Learned In Seventh Grade.
This author had a woman "laying" on the table. He had folks ordered to "lay down" on the bed. Someone was "laying" beside the water.
I died twelve times with each subsequent error.
A brief grammar lesson, then, in order to make me feel (slightly) better:
LAY is a transitive verb; it needs an object to which it "transfers" the action:
Please LAY the BOOK on the table.
LAY aside your WORRIES.
LAY is also THE PAST TENSE of LIE:
She LAY quietly in the bed until morning.
The vegetables LAY on the wooden table.
LIE is an intransitive verb; it does not need an object:
His tools WERE LYING on the grass.
LIE quietly while I dress your wounds.
Right. Enough about that. I just had to do my part. I'm sure not many of you actually needed that.
No, I'm not going to mention the book or the author. That's petty. Suffice it to say that it's a name many would know -- and that he truly is a brilliant storyteller. All the more reason for him to take more care with his craft.
We wouldn't trust a surgeon who didn't know a scalpel from a suture.
We wouldn't trust a bricklayer who didn't know mortar from Elmer's Glue-all.
And I can't trust an author who doesn't know the difference between LAY and LIE. I won't diss him; I won't smear his name around snobby writer circles. But I certainly will not LAY my money on the counter for another of his books, which will LIE, undisturbed, on the bookshelves as I walk by.
Rant over. Snark complete. And now I will shuffle off to find something chocolate.