top of page

Good Writing Breeds Lazy Reading

“Good writing makes the reader question themselves,” said Thomas in interview for ‘Manure Happens Twice’. “Whereas bad writing makes them question everything.” On the face of it, such a facetious comment seems about as intelligent as his books. But he goes on to explain that the comment has depth so profound, that it may actually be without bottom. “And anything without a bottom,” says Thomas, “is definitely worthy of comment.”

Reading good writing, he argues, is lazy. Good writing flows and anticipates the reader’s thoughts while leaving little effort on their part for comprehension. The amount of effort required on the part of the writer to get their words to such a state however, far outweighs the efforts in getting the things onto the page in the first place. So the whole situation’s pretty unfair.

Good writing, Thomas says, panders to the lazy. It appeals to readers unable or unwilling to exert effort to participate in the story. They want the work done for them while demanding effortless immersion.

Compare then, the hard-core readers who revel in the sheer, unadulterated trauma of grappling through a gruelling 500k word tome of badly written prose. “Good writing is a pandering of writer to reader, and ends up being colossally harder for the writer than the lazy sods reading it.” Why then, should the writer aspire to the lazy whims of the reader? Why are writers obsessed with appeasing them? The answer is obvious: because popularity of book is a measure of success, and success is what any writer aspires to.

Expecting writers and editors to do all the hard work so readers can languish wantonly amidst apparent evidence of their intelligence in managing to get through a book that has been specifically designed to be, is pitiable.

“It’s a bit like driving,” Thomas explains, during the same interview, despite the interviewer being in the physical process of leaving. “Most people want a nice car on a smooth road with heated seats, air-conditioning and plush upholstery, all for the purpose of making their journey as comfortable as possible.” As comfortable as possible? Or as lazy as possible? He goes on to explain, “There are other drivers who wish for quite the opposite: off-roaders seeking the thrills that jar spinal columns and soak trousers in river water. These drivers embrace injury and ridiculous insurance premiums for the rush of the challenge. And it is the same with readers.

Real intelligence is proven by off-road reading—where the cacophony of words and ideas are presented in such an inefficient, convoluted and overly wordy manner that serious effort is require to harvest the ideas within—if there are any. But as Thomas asks, “Which is more desirable: finding a large nugget of gold lying in the grass, or sifting through tons of mud to find some small, flaky bits instead?”Because the interviewer had left by this stage, Thomas faxed the remainder of his argument and some badly drawn diagrams, all of which revolved around this convenient excuse for his being such a terrible writer. Although to some degree we can see his point, it’s nevertheless so blunt that it can’t credibly be called one. Apparently, the interviewer faxed back a response along these lines, which Thomas responded to with some more diagrams, some of which involved her cat and industrial strength ammonia, all of which have been seized in lieu of pending charges. We asked author Jefferson P. Blacknaugh to comment on Thomas’ suggestion. He response was, “It’s so ignorant and outrageous that I am not going to credit it with anything resembling a response.”


bottom of page