I had an incident of misconception yesterday. In the morning while I was riding the bus to work and reading Frankenstein, I happened to glance at the back cover of the book to discover that Shelley was apparently 18 years old when she wrote the book.
I hate to admit it, but as soon as I read this, I started to like Frankenstein less. I thought to myself, "Well, it is an excellent premise, but is the writing really that good? It's just the idea that's brilliant." And I continued to read a few more pages pointing out to myself where the writing wasn't that good. It couldn't be good, because, after all, Shelley was only 18 when she wrote it!
You know what, though? I couldn't really convince myself. The more I read the more I saw how wonderfully written it was. I enjoyed the language, the pacing, the emotions, the set up, the fear. Really, it's a good book!
The lesson reminded me that I constantly have to fight the problem of judging the writing based on the writer. If I know that someone has been writing for 20 years, I tend to go in to a story expecting it to be good. On the other hand, if I read someone's first book or first story, I'm more judgmental. Really, it's bad of me. It's a bias I wish I didn't have. Often, I'm reading something, and I actually pretend it's written by someone else just to see if it makes me feel differently about the writing. Sometimes, unfortunately, it does. (Which is why, incidentally, I really have to judge our contest entries without knowing who wrote what.)