Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The sweet rewards of failure

I mentioned before that I was reading some books for a contest.  I was given six books in one category and five books in another.  I started with the category I thought I'd enjoy less, and saved the others for a treat when the required reading was done.

What a mistake.

The category I read was awful.  Just mind-numbingly, eye-gougingly awful.  If these books were what anyone picked up as their first exposure to romance, no wonder we have such a bad reputation.  Four of the six books were almost bad enough as to be unreadable.  One was great, one was all right. 

But with the new work schedule and all, I wasn't able to finish reading those books until the day the judging sheets were due.  (The fact that 80% of the category was sooooo bad didn't help my reading speed either.)  As a result of taking so long to read the first category, the second category was removed from my grimy little fingers post-haste and given to someone who'd be able to read and judge those suckers in mere days instead of the month I anticipated it would take me to finish them.

So the books I had set aside as my reward were no longer available to read. 


The moment those books were taken from me I was irritated.  I felt under-appreciated for the work I'd done.  I mean, I sacrificed 6 weeks of my reading time to get through those awful books, and now that I finally have a chance to read the good stuff, they whip it out of my hands. 

Then, a really cool thing happened.  Freedom. 

I looked around at the books I had in my home to read.  I was down to one library book because I'd cut way back on my borrowing in order to accommodate both the work schedule and the contest books.  I looked in the corner of my bedroom ... even the anticipated "good" books were gone.  All that was left was my own TBR.  Books purchased by me for me.  Books that I WANTED to read that had been pushed aside for many months because I was bowing to the library's schedule or forcing my way through the contest reading.

Oh, sweet freedom.  In the week since I've been allowed to read what I like, I've gone through 3 and a half books.  Well-written books.  Interesting books.  Books that help teach me what to do instead of showing me so vividly what not to do. 

Sure there are lessons to be learned from bad books, but at this point in my writing, bad books are not what I need.  Thank heavens for that lovely silver lining provided to me by those horribly written books.  They freed up my schedule to allow me to read my own TBR.  They showed me (without a doubt) the importance of plot, not relying on crutch words, interesting characters, a compelling story, and side-characters who mean something.  And, as an added bonus, if I don't enjoy these books, I can sell or trade them for other, better books.  It's a win-win!

Just Finished: Her Best Bet 
Just Finished: Jude's Law 
Just Finished: Veil of Midnight 
Just Finished: The Cinderella Deal 
Just Finished: The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain 
Currently Reading: G is For Gumshoe 
Currently Reading: Six


Nobody said...

kudos to you for finally getting to read your own books. getting the other ones taken away may have been really crappy, but i'm glad it turned out well in the end. :)

Venus Vaughn said...

Why thank you, Nobody.

It's a refreshing mindset to be able to take a step back from a disappointment or an annoyance and see how it ultimately helped me.

Erika said...

It's nice to read good books. I'm sorry you had to struggle through the bad though. It feels like a punishment when reading should be a reward. If your TBR pile is anything like mine it's always good to be back to it. ;)

Venus Vaughn said...

I can't believe I've never seen your TBR!
I have to be up in your neck of the woods tomorrow (Wed). Wanna hang? I might / should be free by 12:30 - 1ish.

If you say no, I'll take the car in instead. *le sigh*

Or, if you have time we could play with yarn and stuff at my house on Saturday? After 1pm, of course.

Christine said...

I don't like reading and or reviewing under pressure either. It's why I don't seek out ARCs in exchange for reviews anymore. I'm glad you're reading what you want to now! :)

Venus Vaughn said...

Christine, I'm the same way. I don't like having the expectation on my back, but for some reason I thought this would be different.

If they ask me next year, I'd do it again, just not that same category. Call me an optimist, but it can't always be that bad.