Okay, since reading seems to be on my mind this week, I’m going to stick with the theme. Because I keep hearing authors talking about their reading habits and how they walk away from them when they’re in the middle of a manuscript.
I love to read. I can’t remember not liking reading or the information you could gather when you opened a text book. (I know … I’m one of THOSE geeks!) I skipped all the obvious romance writers young women seem to cut their teeth on like Judy Blume. And my mother who read even more voraciously than me, didn’t read Harlequin romances, so there was no sneaking from her stack. Nope. Mom was more the classics kind of reader. She introduced me to The Yearling and The Thorn Birds (which remains one of my all time favorite books of ALL time). I read the latter when I was in middle school.
I had an awesome reading teacher in middle school who introduced me to science fiction. I wish I could remember the first book he recommended about stars and a moutain and some magic. For the life of me I can’t remember the title, but I remember how it sparked my imagination … and I LOVED it. I read the whole Wrinkle in Time series and all the Narnia series. And during that time I kept up my love affair with romance reading my way through every Danielle Steel book I could find. (I stopped reading her some time in college.) As a matter of fact, I stopped reading fiction only during the school years while I was in college. I was too busy devouring text books to have any time for pleasure reading.
Back then reading was fun. It was all about escaping to another city … another continent … another planet. You see I’m one of those readers that becomes completely immersed in the story. When I put a book down it takes me awhile to reorient myself into the real world. When my children were young and Mr. Nina was establishing himself in his career, I actually had to walk away from romance books. My life and my husband didn’t measure up to those ideal romance journeys and definitely not the romantic heroes. (Mr. Nina has it all over those guys in spades … I just didn’t realize it at the time.) I read books alllllll the time. I carry them whenever I leave the house lest I find myself waiting at the bank drive thru or the doctor’s office or for a kid to get out of sports. I learned a long time ago that reading before bed will take me away from all the worries of my life, transport me some place else and allow my busy brain to rest.
So I like reading. Big deal. A lot of people like reading … what’s my point? The point is … since I’ve become a writer reading has taken on a new dimension. I still read all the time. Every fiction genre. I’m not really picky. But NOW it is about learning. Reading has become the new classroom for me. That isn’t to say I don’t get immersed in a story, I do. But now when an author evokes a strong emotion in me, I stop. I look back over the passage (or pages) and discover what wonderful tool, turn of phrase, or sequence of events the author wove to make me cry or laugh or more recently … turn me on. *g*
Writing is an ever-evolving art form. After a difficult period, I’m rediscovering exactly how much I enjoy this new journey I’ve so recently embarked upon. But I’m a perfectionist … okay, some would call it incredibly competitive. I haven’t accomplished so many things that other authors have done. Which means I need to keep learning and improving. And the only way I can figure to do this is to study the craft. Reading is my studying. Which means I will never read another book for the pure pleasure of enjoying the story. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just is.
And of course, I’m always curious about how other authors feel about their reading now. Does it feel the same as it always did before you put pen to paper or is it now part of your “process”? And not to leave readers out … I’m curious about HOW you read books. Do you immerse yourself in the story or is it like watching a movie? Do you care so much about the characters that you have to skip to the end to see if everything turns out all right? Share with me. I’d love to hear your experiences.