I was once A READER. We’re talking hardcore Olympic level “digest a book every other day or third day” scale reader. And now I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I still read, but not nearly as much as I used to, nor as much as I’d like. I still love books, still love stories and worlds pieced together through a well told tale. The problem is, I became A Writer. See, I have this phobia of inadvertently lifting material from things I read and putting it into my own work. I don’t do it consciously, but one time a very long time ago, I finished reading a book I loved and promptly went to sit down and write. I got this “FIT OF BRILLIANCE” and produced a chapter I thought was epic, awesome, and wonderful. It took the third re-read to see that I’d literally just reworded and spit out a huge theme from the book I’d just read. I freaked out, deleted my chapter, and probably hyperventilated into a cat.
Since that time, I’ve not been able to mix reading and writing. Between every major writing project, I have this stack of books I want to get through, but I never get as far with them as I intend. I end up picking up two or three, plow through them, and then get back to my computer, plunking away at a manuscript of some sort and going on hiatus. I usually make my “between writing project” choices based upon which one Lauren beat me over the head with most recently (see: Mira Grant’s Feed and Stephen King’s The Dome). Joe Abercrombie was supposed to be in that last mix, but then the Lydie story came around, and I had to put him on the back burner despite a few wonderfully engaging first chapters.
Now, there are certain authors I’ll take a forced break from writing for. Christopher Moore is one, Stephen King is one, Neil Gaiman is one. They drop a book, I drop my project and sit down to read, getting my swerve on with someone else’s prose. I used to do that with Laurell K Hamilton (she was my popcorn fic-chick guilty pleasure, stop judging me) but then I moved away from her as I noticed a few too many orgies and very little plot. The point is, I’ll make exceptions for things I love, but it takes a lot to break me away from my projects.
I’m sort of hoping one of these days I’ll be able to balance the reading and the writing. I miss being a bookworm. I used to be one of those people that when folks started book-talk, I’d contribute a lot. Now I find myself listening more than talking, and that actually bothers me quite a bit. I think mayhaps I’m going to break my own rule soon and settle down with some Abercrombie and a cup of coffee.
So, got any good books I should check out?