I have many friends who are a great deal better read than I am, which is kind of embarrassing, considering that I’m a librarian. I admit that growing up, I didn’t read that much fiction; I loved libraries because I could go there and find out about cool things.
In other words, I was what, in the library biz, they call a reluctant reader, and I still am. I cannot begin to count the number of books in which I have read the first ten pages, and then put it aside for another session with something like Ripley's Believe It or Not or The Book of Lists. Again and again, I simply have difficulty achieving lift off. I don’t want to think about the number of times I started The Lord of the Rings, and then abandoned my quest.
So my writing is the kind of writing that I liked. Whatever grade level that tests indicated I could handle (a respectably high level, apparently), it was clear that this wasn’t the level of the reading that I enjoyed. Most of the reading I enjoyed was at an embarrassingly low level.
I think some of this has to do with the fact that the actual literary style meant little or nothing to me. To this day, I still remain remarkably free of any sort of discriminating literary palette, and when it’s a book in which it’s necessary to really bear down and figure out what’s going on, I flee. My friends can breeze through Finnegan’s Wake without breaking a sweat; I have no such intelligence.
A first grader would probably dismiss my writing as being too easy. Fine...for me, the easier, the better. I liked being able to follow what I was reading. Yet so often, when I read, though I could read all the words (and knew the definitions to them) I could not figure out what in the name of heaven was going on.
My high school years were all about this. Classmates would raise their hands and clearly show that they were all over the stuff we’d read. I, meanwhile, hadn’t read it, because I’d completely given up after about 40 pages of being unable to follow anything.
Perhaps I’ve gotten a bit better at this; it has, after all, been over 30 years since high school. Still, the memories linger. And I really, really don’t want anyone who had the same borderline retarded novel reading skills that I did (and perhaps still have) to feel borderline retarded.
So I write in this style, plain and, let’s face it, really, really easy to read. It is for the person I was, a way to invite that poor kid to just enjoy the pleasures of reading something. I wouldn’t have it any other way.