Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Reward Is Other People's Stories

Reading. As a writer, you should be doing a lot of that. Dirty secret? Once I started writing as a career, how much I read along with my storytelling expectations changed drastically. Once upon a time, my weekends were 3-book weekends, gleefully losing all concept of self and time in someone else's world. I didn't care about the style so much as I cared about the story.

These days, my reward for finishing a book I'm writing is a 3-book/300k binge of stuff not written by me and not in the genre of whatever I just finished writing. Like any bibliophile, I have stacks of TBRs. I employ a 3 chapter enjoyment test; if I'm not looking forward to chapter 4, I stop reading the book. It's taken me a long time to permit myself to DNF a book. I used to feel like I owed it to the characters to finish their story. Now I look at all the books I have yet to read, and figure I owe it to those characters to at least give them the chance to ensnare me.

Sometimes, when the words I need to write are being elusive, I turn to the graphic novels, comics, or illustrated stories to unstick my imagination and remind myself of the wonder waiting to be shared. Bite-sized tales give me a swift kick in the ass and scream "you can do it!" Novels pat the fluffy pillows and hand me a bourbon, whispering, "Congrats. You did it. Enjoy the escape. You've earned this."

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