Like most writers I’m a voracious reader. I’ve read all my life and have no intention of stopping now – unless my eyesight suddenly packs in. Then, of course, there are always audio books . . .
So what’s the problem?
Well, the problem is that if I get into a really good book, I just want to read until I’ve finished it. Not a good thing when my second novel is sitting there, just waiting for the last couple of chapters to finish it off.
I’ve just had a great holiday in Malta, as my last post showed, doing all the things I enjoy. I love the sunshine and swimming aspects of holidaying in warmer climes, but what I don’t like is inactivity. I’m one of those people who simply must be doing something. Lounging around sunbathing I can tolerate only in very short bursts, and then only with a book to read – which in itself means an overhead canopy (so no sunbathing because I can’t read in sunlight, with or without sunglasses).
But reading is never boring to me. I read three books whilst in Malta, though they weren’t great, marathon tomes, I admit.
To get back to my main issue: should a writer spend time reading when his/her own book is in progress?
My own thoughts on this . . .? Well, yes and no.
Yes . . . because we all need some leisure time away from our work. And that is what my writing has become – a substitute for my ‘paid’ employment since retiring. I love to write, pay or no pay. And I love the theme of the trilogy I’m in the middle of. My problem arises when I have an urge to read when I should be pounding the keys on my laptop.
No . . . for obvious reasons, already touched on above. Turning to my reading when I should be writing is simply putting off focusing and applying myself to the more important or pressing task. And to be honest, I know I only do so when I hit a section of the narrative that demands a great deal of thought and application.
One final point concerns the type of books an author should read in the middle of writing – whether the author is still at the ‘would be’ stage or already published. I write historical fiction and also love to read that genre, along with some crime novels now and then. I choose to read many books in these genres while I’m writing . . . except other novels set in the same Viking period as my own .
Now, I love Bernard Cornwell’s writing in particular, and have read many of his books set in a variety of periods. I really enjoyed his Arthur series. But I won’t read his books about King Alfred until I’ve finished my own trilogy – also about King Alfred and the Danes. I certainly don’t want influencing by his storylines, as brilliant as I’m sure they are. There are bound to be overlaps in some of the events during Alfred’s life, but how they are told is unique to each author.
Can’t wait to read Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Warrior Chronicles’!
And I wonder what this man would have said about all this . . .?
A last thought from Roald Dahl:
Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people.
Time for him to read something else, perhaps . . .? (What a great writer he was, too.