Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Reading as a Writer

I love to read. I'm such a bookworm that it isn't even funny. My husband will actually brag to people about how fast I read (I read Grisham's The Firm in about three hours and Gone With The Wind took me forever at just under two days - around sleeping.) I used to devour books like mad and haunt my local Barnes and Noble. Actually, back then, my local Barnes and Noble was in Springfield (D'oh!) about 45 minutes away.

When the Girl was a baby, I would sit and read Winne the Pooh (the classic versions, not the Disney versions). We read Goodnight Moon and Fox in Sox. All the Dr. Seuss, actually. I went through probably 4 or 5 books a week. For me - not the kiddie books.

But something happened along the path to publication for me. The more I started to write, the less I enjoyed reading.


Yep - it's true. It is more difficult for me to sit and read for enjoyment these days. Part of it is due to lack of time, I'm sure. I used to have time to start at page one and finish on page whatever in one or two sittings. Not so much any more.

But I don't think that's the only reason.

Since my first book came out, and since I've been writing for publication, I find I'm too critical to sit and enjoy. I read as a writer now, not a reader. For me, it becomes almost editing (whoa, you call that grammar? How could this heroine be so stupid? That hero's an ass, I wouldn't waste five minutes on him and I don't care how good he is in bed!) Things like that - they pull me right out. Or worse, I think "Hmmm.... not bad, but this is how I would have written the scene."

It's been ages since I sat down and read an historical romance and those were always my favorites. I've got a pile of new Victoria Alexander, Eloisa James, Johanna Lindseys collecting dust because I can't get into them. It's frustrating for someone who always loved to read to suddenly not get that same enjoyment out of it. I hope it's only a phase so that I can go back to it, but I don't know. The last Lindsey I read almost ended up thrown across the room because everything seemed so... so... flat.

Maybe it's a matter of retraining myself to read as a reader when it's someone else's book, and read as a writer when I'm revising or writing one of my own. I hope so. I miss my books - and by that, I mean those teetering in the TBR pile.


The Quoibler said...


I can so sympathize!

I have over 25 years of experience in the theatre, and you'd think I'd LOVE to attend live performances, but I despise sitting there.

I just keep thinking: "That director was way off base!" and "The actor just went up on his line... he should have covered it better than that."

Maybe this is one case when "ignorance" truly is bliss!


DMH said...

Very few books take me as an adult in the way books did when I was a child. And I agree with you--being schooled and experienced in writing causes you to read differently.

My husband, a mere mortal, can hardly enjoy his bedtime books because my bedtime literary experience is spent dodging plot elements and show/don't tell.

Horrified, I shout my objections:

"Info dump!"

"No apostrophe in possessive 'its'!"

"These aren't typos--where was the editor on this one?"

But some books are excellent. I recently finished Story of a Girl, a YA book. Very tight and very real. The author had me in her hands that night.

Kim said...

Isn't it amazing - a book I could read over and over again now has me gritting me teeth and rewriting... **sigh**

Ah well - guess I have to learn to enjoy again!

Thanks for the comments! =)

Jennifer said...

I completly agree as well. I always read faster than everyone else and have shelves of books (I collect old ones too). But since I went FT writing I just don't read as much. I spend all my days reading... reading blogs, reading my drafts, reading article research. I am so read out. I really hate it too. I don't know a good solution.

That's funny Angelique, I have a background in theater too but LOVE going to see plays. I am more critical maybe -- but thankfully I still enjoy it. Maybe because I'm not acting now.

Zoe said...

The same thing happens to me. I once put down a book for months because one of the first couple of chapters had a particularly bad bit of "as-you-know-Bob" exposition. No matter how hard I try to ignore these things, I can't. And even if the writing itself is fine, I start thinking about how I would have written the story. It's kind of frustrating.

Kim said...

Ooooo - "As you know, Bob"s... Yeah, I used to be the worst info dumper in the world and now it drives me crazy. But, I have to admit, I love explaining the phrase to people - it usually gets a smile! =)