Thursday, April 17, 2014

HOW I READ (HOLLY SCHINDLER)



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how my reading habits have changed.  I’ve always read voraciously.  But when I was a girl, a book was also something I could sink deep into, give myself to completely.  As the years went by, I slowly stopped reading that way.

As a literature major, I had a prof I really dug who used to tell me that it wasn’t my job to determine whether a book was “good.”  Other, more qualified people had already determined the classics I was reading were good.  My job, he insisted, was to figure out why.

I carried that attitude into my pursuit of publication, post grad school.  I looked at every published book and thought, “Why did an agent rep this?”  “Why did a publisher pick this project?”  Again, I came to a book thinking, “Someone else decided this was good.  Why?”  And I do think this reading technique went a long way toward pushing me toward my own first publication.

Now, though, I find myself drifting back toward the way I once read as a girl.  I’m once again giving myself permission to determine on my own whether or not I think a book is good.  I find myself drifting, too, away from the bells and whistles of technique and back toward story, which is what snagged me as a reader in the first place.  

In fact, I find myself drifting toward story in all sorts of mediums—I allow myself to get invested in TV shows (THE AMERICANS is my current fave); I adore movies (especially vintage), and regularly now turn off the computer, put my WIP aside, and plunge into a new flick.

…I wonder, as I wrap up my current MG and take the first steps into a new project, how this attitude will change my writing from here on out.  That in itself is a story I can’t wait to dig into…

3 comments:

  1. How we read and respond to books is so personal. My literature major/English teacher self can analyze passages for symbolism and theme and literary techniques. My writer self tries to take apart what the writer did and understand her choices. But, all I really want to do when I read a book is turn off BOTH of those parts of myself and just fall into a story. When I can do that, the book is good.

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  2. Man, that's true. (I'm also giving myself permission to put down a book that I'm just not personally feeling. Took me a long time to be able to do that without guilt!)

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    1. I still have a hard time doing that. sigh.

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