Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writer's Kiss of Death

Always keep reading. It's a stalwart mantra, one that's been drummed into me - and rightly so - by published writers, colleagues, agents, and editors on multiple platforms in the last four years. You'd think this would be a no brainer for the woman who, as a girl, would walk home from grade school nose deep in a book. And who, present day, has been known to snatch a paragraph or two at a red light. Yes, I pay attention to red lights. Occasionally, I even wave at them as I go by...

Books. They do a body good.
I was the kid who read by flashlight long after my parent's patience had ended and Light's Out! echoed down the short hallway from their bedroom to mine. In the fifth grade, I stacked The Outsiders upright behind my textbook to read during Mrs. Luxembourg's class. Oy, what a harridan. In the eighth grade, I hid the burgeoning covers of my old skool romance novels face down on my stack of books to, unsuccessfully as it turned out, avoid getting mocked for my reading material. If I start reading a book at 9 o'clock with the avowed intention to ONLY read for an hour, I know I'm deluding myself, right up to the 2 AM mark when I turn the last page. I will fight sleep, snap at loved ones, ignore my cats when wrapped up in a good book. I always have something on me to read, usually more than one item too, and to leave my house sans a book or magazine is equivalent to going out without my girdle - if I was a 1950s housewife.

Here is my shameful confession: I haven't read a book since April. Hello, my name is Kiersten, I am a bookaholic who has not read a book in three months.

Oh. The horror.

Reading is essential. Yes, all right, it's fundamental too. Yeesh. But for a writer, not reading is the kiss of death. Reading enriches writing; by experiencing the excellent - and occasionally seriously crappy - writing that is out there right now, particularly in romantic fiction (the excellent part, not the crappy) (tho I guess that's there too), one hones and shapes one's craft. I whole-heartily subscribe to this philosophy.

And yet. See above.

The Leaning Tower of TBR
I read a review today on Heroes and Heartbreakers for Loretta Chase's upcoming new release Scandal Wears Satin and realized to my chagrin that despite my mad worship of her writing and books, I have yet to read Silk Is For Seduction, her first novel in this series. It teeters on the top of my leaning tower of TBR along with Carie Lofty's Flawless, Zoe Archer's Devil's Kiss and Roxanne St. Claire's debut contemporary Barefoot in the Sand. I salivate for these books. Not to mention that an unbroken binding is like the wag of an accusing finger from the publishing world. What is my dang problem?

Well, there's the fact that I'm gutting the center of the WIP and restructuring the arcs all of which must be done by RWA Nationals. As you can see by the ticking countdown clock to the right, that outstanding event is coming lickety split, hence my impending aneurysm. And then there's the Internet, specifically social media. I'm never not hooked up to something, even if it's only the caffeine-fueled IV in the crook of my arm that goes by the name of Twitter. Sleep. Sleep comes into play from time to time. I gots skillz, baby. Mad skillz. But even I need to sleep or so I'm told. I should just have my sleep removed and be done with it, but then my Id might manifest in the form of a green oversized demon who could then kill and destroy everything in its path, except - no, wait - dammit, Whedon already beat me to that. Of course, there's Lost Girl and my recapping duties therein, but really, when I think about it, it actually helps infuse what sleep I get with lovely, wolf shifter related dreams....what?! Finally, there's guilt. Oy, da guilt. Every time I plan to read a new book, I think of all the things I should be doing instead, like, say, one and two and three above.

What really sux is that I am deeply missing out. Missing out on excellent stories and storytelling. Missing out on juicy word choice and complex characters. Missing out on honing my craft by examining the paths of those who go before.

Is there something you like to do, something you not only enjoy but is also essential to your work in one way or another, that you're not doing? How do you deal? Leave a comment. Win a book. It's that easy.

Standard disclaimer applies. They make me say that. Images courtesy of Google Images.


  1. I think you and I have the same books teetering on our shelves with unbent spines. :( Although, now that I think of it, I've got Carrie Lofty's entire backlist on my Kindle, staring at me, accusing me...

    And you'll have more books after RWA. You *do* have some vacation time planned, right? I expect you'll need a month to read all those books (assuming, you're like me and try to read nonstop for said month).

    I feel your pain, though, and need to get back to it. I read a little a few weeks ago, but fell out of it. My issue isn't that there's something else to do (though there IS usually something else to do), but that I don't like putting books down, and I know, with all my being, that if I pick up the vast majority on my TBR list, the world around me will cease to exist for 24-48 hours. My children and husband don't really appreciate that, so I must time it accordingly. If only there wasn't this pesky day job...

  2. Reading books and stories with action in them would help me a lot with my WiP. I haven't been reading much other than blogs, though. I just don't want to get deeply involved while I'm writing. until I absolutely have to.

    I should also be working up outlines for a work project. Not only will it help the project, it will help me because I haven't done this in quite a few years.

    Editing: always necessary whether for my fiction or my non-fic projects. I could be working on that or reading a book on it to keep me and my skillz fresh and mad.

    Not doing a single oen of them.

  3. I've gone through that exact same thing! It's especially hard to really get lost in a book when you're editing, too, I think. Maybe it'll be more enjoyable after you finish this last round of revisions. Hope you got it all done by RWA! Oh, and guess what book I had with me at RWA? Barefoot in the Sand. It was fun! Hope you like it when you get a chance to read it. I wanted to give her books a try after her wonderful RWA bootcamp a few months ago, and I'm glad I did.