I like a good book as well as the next person. Let’s get real – I was a reader for a heck of a lot of years before I decided to get serious about writing. But, since I’ve started writing, I find it much more difficult to be a reader. To sit down, pick up a book, and just lose myself in someone else’s story is such a pleasure when it happens. However, it doesn’t happen as often anymore. I used to plow through several books a week. Now I might be lucky to get through a couple of books a month.
Why has the reading fallen off so sharply? There are several reasons. First – I’m just busier now. When I spend a lot of time writing, that means I have less time to spend doing things that need to be done. Mr. Scott is extremely cool about my lack of interest in accomplishing domestic work, but there’s a few basic jobs that we agreed to many years ago, and I need to keep my end of that agreement up. Food and laundry are the two priorities. Vacuuming and dusting can be ignored, but even I have my limits on those things.
Second – After writing a few books, I find myself bothered by what I read. It’s not uncommon now for me to start a book and twenty pages in I know what plot point is coming and when. Especially if it’s a romance. I start taking mental bets that by page sixty they are in love, page eighty they have sex, page one hundred there’s a misunderstanding, etc. There are several bestselling romance and paranormal authors who I can now predict to within five pages. I recently annoyed one of my beta readers when I told her what would happen in the next novel by her favorite author. She was annoyed because I was right. The folks that I read are great writers and I still enjoy the ride, but sometimes the thrill is gone.
Third – The better I get at certain things (grammar, phrasing, description, etc. – not that you are seeing my growth in this blog) the more annoyed I am when I find continual problems in “professionally” edited/published books. It bugs the hell out of me to pay big dollars for a hardbound book from one of the major publishers and find bad spelling and crappy punctuation. We aren’t talking about the occasional screw up. We’re talking about multiple errors per chapter. It’s even more frustrating to spend the money and get a book with plot holes that you could drive a truck through. The major publishers like to point out that people who self-publish often suck at the basic tasks of story and copy editing, while they hire the best in the business. That’s obviously not always true. I will admit that I’m less fazed by some of those issues if the book is self-published, but at the same time, I believe in posting a review that says, “Find a damn editor. If you want me to pay for your book – do a professional job.”
Lastly, it’s important to hear your own voice when you are writing, not someone else’s. As a result, I avoid reading when I’m writing the first draft of a book. I’m a person who gets engrossed in the book I’m reading, and I don’t want to have that story or that author’s voice in my head while I’m working on my own book. I find that I’m able to watch TV or a movie and walk away from the story I’ve seen, but I have a tendency to carry books around in my head for long periods of time.
I’ve taken several weeks off from writing, so I’ve had time to read again. A couple of thrillers distracted me, and I tossed in a lightweight romance in between to clear my palate. But now it’s time to get back to work again. I’ve got two drafts to finish in October and I need to plot out the book that I’m going to write during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. Stay tuned.