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What do you hear when you read?

Back­ground sto­ry:
My husband’s FAVORITE series is the Sword of Truth series. He’s read all of them, and thinks they’re just the best. Because I’m a book per­son, and he’s a book per­son, we tend to talk books. So, once he found this amaz­ing series, he want­ed me to read it too. Under­stand­able and hap­pens all the time BUT … I HATE THIS SERIES SO MUCHCAN’T STAND IT. I’ve spent the last almost 3 years try­ing to get through it and I’m mid-way through book 2. There are 19 books.



I don’t read slow. I can read a book in a day or two if I have the time for it. But, not this series. I can’t force myself to care about it.

And the hard­est thing is dis­cussing *why* I hate it so much. I have a few rea­sons, and I’ve gone through all of them with him, but he just can’t see it from my point of view, and always has a rebut­tal for every rea­son I have for not want­i­ng to read it. He just can’t accept that I won’t read the series because he LOVES it so much and wants to talk about it and dis­sect it with me, like he does with every­thing else. (Movies I’ve nev­er watched I’ve heard hour long rants on how the physics was wrong — which made me not want to watch the movie because I’d already heard almost the whole thing includ­ing dia­log, but any­way)

That’s beside the point, but sets the scene. So, the lat­est (19th) book came out and since I’m a librar­i­an I saw it hit the shelves on release day, and texted him to say his favorite series has more mate­r­i­al. (because even if I don’t want to read them, I under­stand lov­ing a series and want­i­ng more as soon as pos­si­ble). So, nat­u­ral­ly, he went out and bought the book.

What start­ed my writ­ing cri­sis was that we were dis­cussing his favorite book series. Again. And he was express­ing inpa­tients because I hadn’t read it, and I’ve read a LOT of books since I start­ed read­ing his series (as a rough guess, I’ve prob­a­bly read about 100 books since). So we were dis­cussing why, which is where things get “heat­ed”

  • I can’t con­nect with the char­ac­ters. They feel sta­t­ic.
  • The MMC is a whiny baby — he annoys me.
  • The author repeats things a LOT, as a way to estab­lish that some­thing is a habit. But it’s obvi­ous enough to be real­ly annoy­ing – or it could be just annoy­ing to me because I lit­er­al­ly don’t care how often this char­ac­ter checks that his sword is clear of its scab­bard. Not at all.
  • The first book has a lot of POV char­ac­ters that by the time you go from one to anoth­er to anoth­er and back again, I’ve for­got­ten what the first one was up to (some of this hinges on the fact that it’s tak­en me so long to read it and I’m not all that invest­ed in the first place)
  • The sec­ond book has few­er POV char­ac­ters and spends more time with each one, but what they’re doing still isn’t all that inter­est­ing and I found myself want­i­ng to yell at the char­ac­ters through­out the whole thing to “hur­ry up already and get to the point” – plus, because it does take longer to go between char­ac­ters now I’ve REALLY for­got­ten what the oth­er ones were up to.
  • There are actu­al­ly a lot of instances where things could be solved by just being straight for­ward and talk­ing to each oth­er amongst char­ac­ters.
  • There are oth­er sim­i­lar instances where things could have been avoid­ed if they had just sim­ply kept going instead of wan­der­ing off on some con­trived thing instead.
  • They go into SO MUCH DETAIL about strat­e­gy and how gov­ern­ments are run that I’m *so bored* when I read it. But to my hus­band this is a bonus. He’s thrilled with it, and says that books 3 and 4 the main char­ac­ters aren’t even IN IT until the end and that the whole thing is about this oth­er gov­ern­ment. He finds it fas­ci­nat­ing … I’m try­ing to con­vince him to accept that I’m nev­er going to read those books.
  • And that’s not even going into the CONTENT of the books … because frankly I don’t remem­ber enough of it. I know there’s some ques­tion­able instances, and that you can CERTAINLY tell it was writ­ten by a man for male read­ers and it’s part of that Tolkienesque field of epic fan­ta­sy (and full dis­claimer I don’t like Lord of the Rings either)

Some­how things got onto the sub­ject of how it sounds when we’re read­ing books. He says he can hear the female char­ac­ter in a female voice, the male in a male voice, the old man in an old man voice, etc … and I can’t recall ever hav­ing that hap­pen for me. I hear every­thing in my voice. Rarely, if I’m read­ing a book that I know as a movie I may be able to put an actor’s voice to it, but only if I’ve recent­ly heard that character’s voice. I can see entire scenes, I can pic­ture a tree and the apple that falls from it and see­ing it bounce along the ground. And he says he can­not – for him it’s more of a wire mesh vague­ness that sug­gests what’s going on. But he was flab­ber­gast­ed that I don’t get voic­es, and that’s when he said that maybe I should stick to read­ing non-fic­tion because with­out voic­es, why read fic­tion?

And it just … stuck with me.

I know he didn’t mean it in the way I then took it and ran with it. (I know he was also just hurt that I can’t read his favorite series and he real­ly real­ly just wants to talk about it with me) Which is to say, my brain then went on a down­ward spi­ral of if I’m not cut out to read fic­tion, how can I write fic­tion, and if I can’t write, than what am I going to do with my life because books are my life, I can’t not write, it’s what keeps me sane, I couldn’t han­dle not com­ing up with sto­ries, I can’t let go of my char­ac­ters.

Then I came back to my sens­es and real­ized … if I can’t bear to part with my char­ac­ters, than there must be enough of them in my head to be real char­ac­ters. Right? So, even if I don’t hear their voic­es dis­tinct­ly, I do hear their dia­log, and I do know what they’re feel­ing.

So that’s where the spi­ral end­ed, and I decid­ed to sit down and write the start of my new nov­el just to prove to myself that I could. So, there’s that. But still, it made me curi­ous … am I real­ly that weird for not hear­ing voic­es? Is there any­one else out there that doesn’t hear voic­es or accents in their head when they read?

Published inWriting