Thursday, October 9, 2014
BALANCE: READING AND WRITING
I've gotten out of the habit of reading, and writing; and I miss both activities. When I finished my FATE trilogy and began submitting to agents/publishers, and got rejections, and a few short words of writing advice, I started collecting books on writing. Those helped me hone my writing abilities. Working with critique partners and writing book reviews also helped. Yes, oddly enough, reading for another writer with the intent of constructive feedback made it possible for me to objectively look at my own writing (occasionally at least).
With all that writing, and reading for writing, I've lost the ability to just sit down and read a book for the enjoyment of getting lost in another world. Well, over the last couple years I have read some books that pulled me right in to the story, and then writing the review was a little more difficult because I didn't keep notes of the exciting and intriguing segments of the book, and I despise writing a review that simply says 'what an awesome book, couldn't put it down' even though its totally true.
During my first week of unemployment I indulged in a book not written by any of my author friends.
Stephen King is still, and will likely forever remain, one of my most favoritist authors. I've had his novella THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE for a couple years, and finally read it. What an awesome start back into pleasure reading; I loved reacquainting with the characters from the DARK TOWER series, and even meeting new characters in this three-short stories-in-one novella style. The head hopping was a little annoying, but not so much it pulled me out of the story. A good example of a writing no-no that was done well.
Now I'm reading Dean Koontz 77 SHADOW STREET, its harder to get into due to the large cast of characters, but I'm sticking with it because I know I usually enjoys Koontz's writing, and I am sure the story plot will pay off when all the characters are inevitably brought together to deal with the monster. The characters are interesting enough for me to keep connected to the story; but I'm sure many readers would find it hard to read all that back story and character development. For now though, I'm constantly putting it down to do other things - house cleaning, watching TV, checking on blogs.
Notice how I'm still procrastinating wring my own stories. I'm a week late in turning in my chapter re-write to the my online writer's group (at time of this writing, hopefully by the post date it will be turned in and I'm starting something else). Unlike many writers who sit down to the computer ready ready to dive back into their WiP, I need some warm up time by reading something writing related, or even writing some comments on blog posts to get my fingers a typing workout. Sometimes that leads me to write a blog post. Yay me, I'm updating my blog!!
This isn't even the post I started out to write when I logged into my blog. I started off this morning checking my e-mails, and since I'm trying to get back into writing, and reading things related to writing, I decided to read some of those Writer's Digest and Quora Digest articles I have sitting unopened in my inbox.
As writing articles tend to do, there wasn't much new from the WD articles and I didn't even click on the "read more" link. But Quora had some interesting reading.
The first eye catcher written by Marcus Geduld was on whether you should start a paragraph with "however." He summarized his grade school experience with an English teacher who taught him all sorts of rules, which he discovered he could effectively break when he became a writer by explaining: "However, when I got older, I realized that the writers's job is to infect the reader's brain. He should use any means at his disposal to make readers experience. The only rules worth remembering are ones that help that process." This brought a smile to my soda-stained lips and brightened my writing desire with a "true that!"
I should have turned immediately to writing then, but just below the article was an intriguing title WHAT IS THE POINT OF WRITING by Ellen Vrana. She advised writers: If you are defining success as "being popular" you really shouldn't be a writer. She listed some attention seeking authors who enjoyed the light of media, and some successful but not so popular authors who are reclusive and shun the public. Both author types had one thing in common though; Writers - professional, amateur, Quorans - write because they cannot not write. They have something inside of them that has to get out: characters, a story, a tale, wisdom, knowledge, opinions, viewpoints, questions, fear, frustration, answers, love. That statement made me think a about my own ability to procrastinate at writing, so I scrolled down a bit for some extra writing inspiration.
Marc Bodnic caught my attention with WHAT NOVELS HAVE THE BEST OPENING LINES OR OPENING PARAGRAPHS. He listed many of the classics you'd predict in his top 20: Moby Dick, Pride and Predjudice, Anna Karinna, Lolita, 1984, Tale of Two Cities, you get the drift. I was looking for my favorite first liner which comes from Charlotte's Web: "Mama, where's daddy going with that ax?" I didn't find it. I never read the story Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, but I'm pretty sure that 145 word run-on sentence for a first paragraph would have turned me off the book completely. Maybe not if I lived in 1759 . .
I read a couple more, a very good flash fiction that made me laugh, and a question on whether you need to be a good reader to be a good writer, and what what you can learn by reading effectively, even fiction, and of course this brings me back to me decision of whether to read today - that fiction novel I'm having a hard time dedicating to or some writing tutorial - or whether to sit down with this first chapter re-write and finally get it off my to do list. My deadline is quickly approaching.
You see I finally opted for writing a blog post. Its over a thousand words - thanks for reading this far, if you didn't just skim to the end - and I'm considering using this post as my daily word count. LOL, I'm hearing the collective gasp even though I'm scheduling this post a week from this writing. However, one of my greatest strengths at the day job has been my ability to prioritize, and I woke up this morning with the intention of completing, editing and submitting my chapter re-write before going to bed; so that is what I will do. I'm sure.
I'll let you know how well I did in the comments when this post is up.
Do you have a writing and reading schedule? How well do you stick to it?