Monday, March 12, 2012

The "Death, Disease and Victim" Books ... My Hugely Unpopular Opinion

So, I received a lot of submissions from authors of the category of book I'll call the "death, disease and dying books." I'm going to say something that will largely be met with an unpopular uproar, but I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of the barrage of these book types. Yes, many of them are designed to be inspirational. I love to be inspired. The problem is most of them spend 200 pages discussing the negative subject of what happened and only a chapter on the inspiration ... I overcame it. It's depressing and mostly not the way I as a reader want to spend an afternoon. Again, I realize from the deluge of these book types that many authors are saying "boo, hiss" at me right now, but honestly it doesn't challenge me to my higher sense of positivity to spend six months of my life as an editor of these tomes buried in the misery. Now books that spend the majority of that time exploring resiliency and positive outlooks even in the darkest moments are much more inspirational. But like I just said, the vast majority do not. They ruminate on the events, pain and horror of what happened. I was even watching TV last night and realized that most documentary-type shows do the same thing. We already live in challenging time. A focus on the positive works far better on me anyway -- and I would wager on a lot of my reading friends, too. And one last note: want more disease? Invite more of it by talking about it all day! And that message is from a woman who had a disease she cured with an essential oils treatments and who has not been sick in two years with anything -- and who NEVER talks about it. So, let me repeat this: want more disease, invite more of it by talking about it!!


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  2. I agree that life is too short to spend on "Death, Disease and Victim" Books and wallowing in despair serves no one. However I do think there is a redeeming value to them in some cases. Like when the story sheds light on a heated and controversial debate. I have those story tellers to thank because I also do not have time to follow drawn out politically top heavy health and environmental issues. In some cases those authors have spent a tremendous amount of time researching, weeding through and weighing the issues. They often present more than one side, although often slanted, while providing away to present the issue in an interesting way. On such occasions the author’s perspective can help 100’s of not 1000’s of people like Dan Lombard’s ‘Death Panel’ will help people select better health insurance and help people understand how an HMO decides the coverage of potentially fatal diseases strictly by the numbers no matter what your believe your policy represents. Maybe how we have let that happen as a nation is something we need to spend more time talking about.

  3. Hi Deidre,

    I agree with educational and inspirational. I don't like what I see so much of ... this horrible event or deadly disease in which I am walked step by step through every painful detail. I often see manuscripts that don't even spend more than five pages on the inspirational part, and I like most readers don't want to wade through misery for a brief payoff. Yet everything has its place if done right.


    1. Hi Michelle, thank you Deidre. Through the miracle of Google search I came across this blog.

      You may have dismissed out of hand an entire genre for the simple reason that you have not found a good example. And that is how you can miss the book that defies the stereotype and becomes your rule breaker. Perhaps it is better to critic types of authors rather than genres, or sub-genres. If the writer cannot write a good book on death and dying she probably also can't write a good romance, thriller, comedy, drama, or biography. A talented author can write a good book on any subject.

      Even though hypothetical what-ifs can become tedious, let me nevertheless pose one. You are cleaning out grandma's attic in Idaho when you stumble across a trunk in the attic. Inside is a 2oo-page, typewritten, yellowed manuscript. It is about dying and death, but there is nothing inspirational in the author's progression towards death, otherwise he never would have stuck that shotgun in his mouth. Do you throw the manuscript in the trash can, or do you go running down the street waving Hemingway's last, great unpublished novel in your hands?

      No, I am not comparing myself to the greatest American author (though I can now do a Google search on Hemingway and Lombard and it will produce results!), just saying you never know what might surprise you, and someday the unexpected may change your thinking.

      I look forward to my first writers mean business meet-up in the coming week, even if it is on the subject of writing erotic fiction. But I will ask the question "Is it necessary for every erotic passage to end with an orgasm, whether it is faked or not?"

      Dan Lombard, author, Death Panel