Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Being a Reader and a Writer

I love reading mysteries.  That's the whole reason I chose the genre to write for.  But when I'm writing a book, I try not to read books that are similar to my own.  In other words, I try to avoid humorous cozy mysteries. 

The reasons I do this are two-fold.  First,  on some level, I'm worried about getting too much influence from a book similar to my own.  But mostly, I'm worried that reading another author's published book will make me more frustrated with my own.  What I'm reading is a well-polished, darned-near-perfect finished product, but I can't help but compare it to my own, imperfect, scratched-up and scribbled over Work in Progress. 

So lately I've read some wonderful mysteries, but they've been nothing like my own.  I read Deborah Crombie's latest police procedural (Where Memories Lie) and a couple of books with mysterious elements to them that weren't traditional mysteries (House at Riverton and The Secret History). These books were so different from mine in every way that I was able to read them for relaxation and pure enjoyment instead of comparing my manuscript to them and feeling like I'm falling short.