Thursday, August 02, 2007

Does writing lessen our enjoyment of reading?

This is a question that comes up pretty frequently in our little Drunk Writing Circle, and amongst other writers. Do we read differently now that we write and have to analyze our own work and that of others.
It’s also something the Smart Bitches Who love Trashy Novels recently posted on. Check out their website, they are tremendously entertaining. www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com

The short answer on this question is YES.
I read much differently now and am much harder to please. Cliché’s bug the hell out me, I really notice repetition and where before I would read a ho hum book all the way through, now I toss them aside the moment I lose interest. I’d just rather be writing than read something not completely worthwhile.
But when I read a book and don’t notice scene structure and don’t take note of POV, or the intricacies of plot, I am thrilled in a way I wasn’t before I became a writer.
We all have them, the books, or writers who can sweep us into a story and we forget everything but the characters and what might happen next.
One writer who almost always does this for me is Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I can never analyze her books, even on multiple readings, because I get too caught up in the story. Is this because of voice, or plotting, or an amazing skill level I can only gnash my teeth in envy over, (probably all three).
Because this happens less often these days, I treasure these writers and their books. Anne Stuart can do this on an inconsistent basis, Maggie Osborne, JK Rowling, absolutely, and then there are my favourite books, but that’s a much longer post.
There are times I mourn those days of carefree reading. But I’ve come to realize it’s a side effect of writing, unavoidable I’d guess and a small price to pay.

6 comments:

Kristin said...

This does happen to me on occasion. What helps is reading a book completely different from what I write. I could *never* write an historical romance. So, I really can read those without much of a problem (unless it is just badly done).

My standards are much higher now. Which does make it harder to find a good book. I have to read a few pages, but eventually the internal editor shuts off.

Molly O'Keefe said...

you know the only upshot of this writing ruining reading thing is that when a book is good it's sooooo good. That's fun. I enjoy a good book more than i did before.

The bad thing is that it's beginning to ruin movies for me too -- although clearly not too much as I love Talledega Nights more than anyone really should.

Sinead M said...

Yep, I agree, standards are much higher, but when a book works, it is so much better now as well.

Talledega Nights.. Really? Not sure I see the allure there..

But am starting to realize the true genius of Joss Whedon.. love that man's body of work.

Sandra Ferguson said...

Found you through LA Mitchell's blog.

Love this post.

I agree, absolutely, the reading is different. My patience level is certainly shorter. I, too, won't tolerate a dull book. I find the same thing with movies and TV shows. If the plot is ridiculous or the language atrocious, I'm done and really quickly.

One of my favorite writers is now Jim Butcher in his Codex Alera series. More fantasy than I normally would read, but the writing is superb and I love a great read.

Maureen McGowan said...

Nice to meet you, Sandra! And welcome!
I haven't read Jim Butcher but have heard really good things. His wife, Shannon K. Butcher, also writes and is repped by the same as I am. That's how I first heard of Jim. When other agency clients went gaga when Shannon got signed by the agency.
I wanted to see the series that was on TV last year based on his books, but never caught it... Maybe it'll be on DVD some day.

The BlogHore said...

I think that this also comes with age, whether a writer or not. I know that I often read an entire book that was just terrible just because I had started it. Now, I don't have time to read an entire 400 or 800 pages that don't grab me within the first few pages. I just don't have the luxury anymore. When I finally make some time available for myself to enjoy a book, I want to WANT to read it.

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