Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Grab Me

When reading a book (or watching a movie or TV series), how long do you give it to grab you before giving up?     

From Frank

I used to be a completionist. If I started a book, I finished it. Same with a movie. Maybe not so much with a TV series but definitely an episode. And if I invested in it for a few of those episode, I was seeing it through.

No longer.

Now, if you don't grab me in a reasonable amount of time, I'm gone. 

What's a reasonable time? Well...

Is your tolerance level different in the different mediums? 

I think so. If you're a movie, the first fifteen minutes better be interesting. A TV show, I'll usually give it one episode. If it's a video game, I'll go an hour. A book? You get one chapter, pal. One. If I'm not still interested after that, adios.

Has it changed from where it was ten or even twenty years ago?

Definitely. As I said, when I was younger, I hung in no matter what. No longer. I'd say this changed for me about a decade ago. Why? Read on.

How much of this tendency has to do with your reader/viewer self and how much is due to the writer self?

It's both, and more. The 'more' part is my changing philosophy on time. My time, to be precise. I'm 53 as I write this. When I was 23, I didn't really think about how much time I had left on this earth. That's a concept that has wormed its way into my consciousness in the last few years. So I don't want to waste time doing anything I don't love doing unless it's a necessity. 

As a consumer, my attitude is that there is so much content out there that I will never get to all of it that I will enjoy. So why spend any meaningful time with something I'm not enjoying. Move on and invest that precious resource of time into something worthwhile.

As a writer, I look at it this way: I'm held to a high standard by the reader. I have to grab the reader early, provide a compelling story, rich characters, and so forth. So there's no way I'm letting you off the hook. I'm not buying or reading your work if it doesn't meet that standard. Why should you get a free pass when the rest of us are working hard to toe the line?

Do you wish you were different in this regard, and if so, how? 

Absolutely not. I am wholly comfortable with this approach. And I don't buy into the complaint that some artists have expressed that this is about short attention spans or a need for instant gratification. It isn't. I'll watch a three-hour movie if it grabs me. I'm in the middle of reading a fantasy series that is currently eight books (I'm on number seven). I recently finished the entire run of Justified and by the time this post goes live, I'll have binged Deadwood. I don't have a short attention span nor do I need instant gratification.

But I do need quality. It is my time, after all, and my subjective preference. 

Note that I fully endorse the YMMV doctrine at the same time, so anyone else is free to approach things however they prefer. This works for me and I'm unapologetic for it. That doesn't mean I expect anyone else to adopt it (although I suspect I am in no way unique).

We live in a world where people sometimes seem to resent people having different opinions. I say, take 'em as they come. You're a completionist? Salud. You're more along the lines of my approach. Also salud.

And if I didn't grab you with the first paragraph of this post, and you're not even reading this final line:  well, good for you. I feel ya.

1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

I read the whole post! I'm with you about how time matters. And I was happy to see Justified get a mention. I, who usually doesn't like gory, violent drama much, loved that series. The acting, the scripts, the black humor - what a complete package.