Question for you, dear ISLF readers: Do you feel the need to finish novels you've started reading?
Once upon a time, I would've answered with an unequivocal "yes" and provided a laundry list of reasons why. Discipline is vital to writerly success. You can't rightly judge a story without reading it in its entirety. Sometimes dull narratives turn a corner, surprising with unexpected detail, and bailing too early can cause you to miss it. And all these points are true. Yet recently I've found myself abandoning more and more tales.
Why? There are just so many of them out there.
A wise person once said that of making many books there is no end. I would also add of novellas, magazines, short stories, movies and television series. I know that as I struggle through some turgid podcast during my daily drive time that other episodes are piling up in the queue, waiting for attentive ears. Does my willingness to punch "delete" indicate some kind of character flaw? Perhaps. Or maybe it's simply an acknowledgement of market conditions. Historically speaking, we have incredible access to fiction. Back in the day, C.S. Lewis wrote, "Every good book should be entertaining. A good book will be more; it must not be less." How much more does that apply to us, we who have free lending libraries and Kindles? Such bounty just may free us from always feeling the need to finish.
(Picture: CC 2006 by rachel sian)