How do you read?
Do you read out of a genuine frenzy of enthusiasm for a book, or a kind of neurotic need to fill the void that would otherwise loom? Do you drag yourself dutifully through texts, because its good for you and elevates you above the brain-mushing of TV and facebook, or do you – gasp! – read for fun?
The reason I ask is that I, as has already been established, write. When you start seriously on that dark path a writer, something happens to the way you read, something which, with very little exception, changes irrevocably. This is because, once into your great work, you are preoccupied with it. Reading something else is not only a drain on time you could be writing your own stuff, but causes you to compare and contrast all the time. You begin to think about the writing, about structure and style and plot, and not just the experience of reading. A really good book will shine at both.
But. Imagine this situation as applied to your own writing in review. I am currently trawling through my latest final of The Bastard Wonderland in an attempt to gain a frank appraisal of it, and it is something of a mind scrambling experience. You are supposed write/re-write, then go away and come back afresh. Good reader comments are invaluable, but in the end, you have to make decisions yourself. A manuscript that is anywhere near finished will have already done your head in so much, be so familiar and yet so treacherous seeming, that you struggle to ‘come back to it afresh.’ Just the other day i discovered a friend of mine uses hypnosis as part of his job, and i seriously considered it as a possibility – “when i click my fingers, this Bastard Wonderland will appear fresh as newly lain snow”.
Alas no, i’m not that desperate yet. And so the only thing i can do is try to be brisk, not overthink it. I’m finding some good stuff in review, but its almost as if the good stuff bores me, is glossed over as beneath by my psychotic, fault finding internal editor. If, on average, the whole thing seems just about alright, that’s probably quite good in the end. Maybe.
I guess we’ll find out in the end. I suppose this is why a writer is nothing without readers.