Back in the day of Peter, Paul and Mary and Sonny and Cher I remember reading an article about musicians and songwriters. What it said was, in effect, that when artists writing songs had written everything they could think of, then they wrote songs about writing songs. If you think about it there are a large number of instances of this in the popular culture.
The same thing can be said for authors. How many novels has Steven King wrote where the protagonist is an author? I can think of three right off, without stretching my brain. “The Shining,” “Bag of Bones,” and another whose title escapes me but it was made into a movie with James Caan and Cathy Bates.
So the question arises – is this the lazy way out? We are told to “write about the things we know” and nobody knows the ups and downs, ins and outs of writing like an author. But, honestly, it doesn’t take any research and not much talent to take “Standard plot #9 and Insert ‘Writer”. does it?
I find that these books, generally speaking and Steven King in particular, to be shallow with nothing left to the imagination of the reader. That is not to say that they are not popular – King is probably the best example in current literature of one who has made a lot of money out of horror – and fantasy and the occult seem to be the “in” fad of the day. And the majority of today’s readers are lazy and, like children, prefer easy reading that requires no thought on their part. And they like the next book they read to be just like the last book they read. How many children have you seen who can watch the same cartoon over and over and never tire of it? Doesn’t say much for adults with the same mind set, does it?
Perhaps that is why I find myself going back to the great writers of the 20th (and even 19th) century for my inspiration. A reader can’t get out of a book something that is not put into it. Leaving out the door to our imagination is, in my opinion, the crime of most modern writing. (I almost said “literature” but the trash now being produced doesn’t deserve that title.)