According to dictionary.reference.com, addiction is ‘the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma’.
I confess to being amongst the majority of readers who are addicted to a happy ending. Before transitioning to author status, I didn’t much care how I got my fix. Encouraged by friends who share my aspirations to see my novel on the bestseller lists around the world, I studied the art of writing. I learnt from the masters of the craft what attracts a reader to a book in the book shop, how to hook them, the importance of pace to keep them interested until they reach that point where the Prince finds his Cinderella.
Before such enlightenment, I disciplined myself to finish every book I started, convinced that the last sentence would be worth it. I now have the courage to skip pages when I get bored and to put books aside long before the couple have even met. I haven’t quite surrendered to chronic neurosis, that point where I must read the final chapter before I start the first.
I recently purchased a book written by an author who was once a favourite of mine, confident that my lust for utopia would be satiated. Shock and disbelief carried me through five hundred pages of repetition and predictability that could have been squashed into a few paragraphs of flash fiction. I was left wondering if she was suffering from the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease. I spent a great deal of time silently screaming, ‘I got the message the first time!’
The fact that the author made money out of me for a book that showed no signs of ever having crossed an editor’s desk or even suffering a re-write didn’t help matters. This particular author has made millions out of readers who, like me, are after their fix. And, no, the book is not called Fifty Shades of Grey but EL James might have read a few pages of this one and thought how hard could it be?
We live in a world where, to make it, you’ve got to top it. Is nobody ever going to say, “Stop it.” Are there no literary police? Did the last discerning reader die of suffocation under a pile of sleazy paperbacks or just overdose on happy endings? Fortunately I survived the trip. I read to the end for the sheer hell of it. It was the best form of rehab I could buy.