Writing Hath Destroyed My Reading.

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?



4 thoughts on “Writing Hath Destroyed My Reading.”

  1. I fell into the same trap in college and grad school, only it was “school reading” versus “fun reading”. “I have so much reading for school left to do, I can’t read for fun!”

    I have a feeling you’ve already read anything I’m going to rec but I’ll give it a shot (in no particular order):
    1) Garth Nix: Abhorsen Trilogy. I read “Sabriel” years before I knew there were two more books. Quick reads, but quite good.

    2) Guy Gavriel Kay: Fionavar Tapestry trilogy. Solid high-fantasy. Definitely Tolkien-esque but GGK’s writing style is much better IMO. I love him on-par with Gaiman. Sarantine Mosiac is a nice two-part series as well, and Tigana is a hefty stand-alone. Fionavar is the only one I’ve read and re-read, probably going on five times now.

    3) Patricia A. McKillip: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. Quite short compared to my typical fare, but unique and well-written.

    There’s another series but I can’t remember the author OR any of the titles. Bah.

  2. Any genres you particularly don’t like? I’m personally a fan of Ursula K. LeGuin’s work (“The Left Hand of Darkness” and “The Dispossessed” come to mind), and although I’ve never read Octavia Butler I hear she’s in the same league of womanly brilliance. For my utopian literature class we just finished “Kirinyaga” (Mike Resnick), a story about an African utopia on a neighboring planet, and it was probably the best read in my class.

    Dystopias — I love them. The Shadow Children sequence (Margaret Peterson Haddix; YA, but man, the subject matter) was a favorite growing up. Scholastic Book Fairs really did a wonder in introducing that series to me.

  3. The Court of the Air and the Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt. High-grade steampunk.

    the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins is very, very good.

    The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway – read it if only for the cult of ninja mimes.

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