In an effort to read more contemporary science fiction, I tried reading the Hugo award nominees for the last two years, and the Nebulas as well. It was a fun project, and I found several new authors to read.
I read books that I wouldn't ordinarily have read, and that's a good thing. But, I'm one of those readers who refuses to put down a book once it's started. No matter how much I find myself despising the book, or being bored by it.
As a result, I've done some hate reading, which isn't my favorite thing to do. And, in light of the strange turn of events involving the Hugo nominations (not going into it, check here for a run down or search sad puppies or rabid puppies if you want to live dangerously), I've decided not to do the project this year.
I am prejudging that there are works on the Hugo ballot that I won't particularly want to read. I'm also prejudging that the Nebulas nominees will likewise not be my cup of tea. I just haven't had much luck with getting into the Nebula nominees or enjoying them. And I want to find books that I enjoy.
I avidly reread books that I like. And I am going to go with the premise that I will learn more about how to write stories I like if I reread and analyze books that I like. Reading books I don't like is an interesting exercise, but not a productive one. I mean, I can point out why I'm stopping a read, but to continue past that point only gets me a larger list of negatives.
I want to find some positives. To examine what an author does well and try to see if I can make it work too. This is definitely something that I have seen floated as advice here and there through the years, but I have to credit Dean Wesley Smith (again) with giving the final push to this iteration.
I think that reading those award nominees, regardless of whether I like them or not, only gives me a sense of what is being published currently by publishing houses. If I'm not even going to try that route, then there's no sense in figuring that out. I only need to write what I like, publish it, and write the next thing better.