Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reading, as a Writer

The New Novel-- by Winslow Homer -1836-1910I read an interesting post the other day and shared it on Twitter.

The article was by Candy Gourlay on the Notes from the Slushpile blog. The post was titled “Does writing affect one’s love of reading?”

Candy states that, yes, writing will change your reading. She adds, though:

But you've got to make the time to restore your wonder. How can you hope to inspire your readers if you yourself have lost the joy? Besides, writing books is not just about writing books, it's about living a creative, writing life. And if the best thing about living a writing life is the writing, the next best thing is the reading.

The writers on Twitter who responded (and quite a few did) said that writing hadn’t slowed down their reading, but it had affected it. As one writer put it: “We spend our days looking for problems and holes in our own work. It’s hard to turn it off.”

When I was a kid, I could get completely engulfed by a book—to the point it wouldn’t hear my teacher or mother calling me.

Now, it’s harder not to analyze a book. Particularly a mystery. If I’m reading a mystery now, it’s almost unconscious…there’s a tape running in the back of my head saying, “When will he reveal the body? How many suspects does he have? What’s the means of the murder?…”

If I like a book or dislike it, I’ll figure out why. If anyone I know likes or dislikes a book, I want to know why.

I’ve found that I’m not quite as bad analyzing books when I use my Kindle or a library book (maybe because I’m not using florescent highlighters on them…even though I’ve used Kindle’s highlighting feature before. It’s just not the same.)

I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m going to keep trying to figure out what makes a good book tick and a bad book lousy. I’m not going to stop.

I’m still enjoying books…I’m just enjoying them differently. Same with films and plays and any type of entertainment. I’m more critical…but I’m still enjoying my experience (usually.)

Has reading changes for you since you started writing?