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…