Reading Your Own Work for Entertainment

>> Monday, September 10, 2012

Lots of things inspire and encourage me and, I'm sure, most of the rest of you who are interested in writing. Praise is good, of course. So is being paid/published.

Even so, being open to that sort of thing has a down side. NOT getting paid or published (no matter how little work you've actually devoted to marketing) is NOT encouraging. And even the most devoted friend/fan can't stoke your ego constantly. For one thing, writing is time consuming so they either have to gush constantly over the same small tract of writing (which hardly makes it sound sincere) or their compliments are likely interspersed with long patches of not much.

If you want to write and need something to keep you from getting to disheartened to write, reading both good and bad literature can help. The good because being swept away reminds you why you wanted to write in the first place. The bad to remind yourself that it can't be hopeless for your own work or this book would never have made the light of day.

And both good and bad literature are great learning tools. The bad can be a smorgasbord of what you don't want to do yourself; the good a feast of what you do want to do. In my case, my reaction when I read a book tells me instantly if it's a good book, great book or garbage. Garbage I don't want to read and won't read past the point when I feel I've either never stood at risk of writing that poorly or that I've already picked up all their bad habits and can move on. Good stuff I still pick apart but find myself driven to read more because (probably) there's a character in there I just want to know what happens to. Or it has a thought-provoking premise or it grew on me, even while I was picking it to pieces.

The great stuff, the stuff I put in my bedroom books shelves (I have five, floor to ceiling) are the books I completely forgot to pick apart because I was too caught up in the story and people and stuff. Stuff I love to read over and over and over again. So far, at least to date, I eventually get to the point where I can pick it apart and figure out why it worked so well for me. But these books, even after I've "figured 'em out," are still a joy to read over and over again and, with no effort, I can lose myself again.

Frequently, it's books like that that get me writing again.

So, anyway, I haven't been writing. I tried to edit one of my (I thought) better novels and had to stop because I decided it was all garbage. Can't edit that way because, a) if it's true, there's no sense writing anyway and b) if it's not, you don't have the perspective to make it better if you're thinking that way.

Well, this past weekend, instead, I read a novel I really enjoyed writing and I read it for fun, just read it without editing, except for a few word choices or typos, and let myself get immersed, let myself laugh and get emotionally torn up and all the things I want my book to do to someone else. You know what? I loved it! Man, I rock!

So, now I'm ready to edit the book that came before it, not because it has no flaws but because now I know those flaws can be handled and that it's worth it. Because the world I'm building is worth it.


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