Monday, June 26, 2006

The love I lost . . .

I can't remember I time that I didn't read, at any and all opportunity, whatever I could get my hands on. In the bathroom when I was supposed to be getting ready for school, under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping, in class with a paperback hidden behind my textbook. Books, yes, but also the magazines in the beauty salon waiting room and the back of cereal boxes and stray notes I found on the floor. Reading has always been one of the primary pleasures and passions of my life.

But then I started writing. I never expected that it would affect my reading so much.

I am so rarely swept away by a story now. I see the "seams" too much. I'm too aware of the technique they used, too busy rewriting stuff in my head. There's work I still enjoy, still admire, but I'm a bit more distanced from it now, occupied with trying to figure out how the writer did that.

It's the biggest downside of becoming a writer. Is that true for other careers? Can actors not enjoy theater in the way they did before, can musicians not listen in the same way? Or is this something that mostly only happens to writers . . . or just to wierd little me, which is always a possibility.



Helen Brenna said...

Well, there is always the weird little you theory, Susie!! But I have to admit, I suffer from this same problem, especially within the romance genre.

When I do happen upon that great book, romance or not, I do appreciate it soooo much more for understanding how difficult the process can be.

Betina Krahn said...

Surprisingly, I read more now than I ever have, and all across the board; mystery, suspense, thrillers, women's fiction, mainstream, paranormal, contemporary. . . unfortunately little historical romance, for obvious reasons.

I do find that I can be pickier when I read. (You should hear Rex and me after a movie! Since we often read the same books, we discuss those too. . . and not necessarily in a critical way. Sometimes we just re-enjoy the plot twists together!) But I can also tune out the editor in my head unless there are egregious errors or shoddy plotting. I still love being swept away by an author, no matter what the genre. And there are quite a few authors I can count on to divert me. (Anybody want to swap lists?)

One thing I can't seem to shake is matching the personality of a writer I know with the voice in the stories they write. sigh. If I enjoy the person, I usually can get past the over-identification. But if the opposite is true, I really have difficulty enjoying the book. Does that mean I don't read the people I find unpalatable in person? Yes it does. And after you've been in the biz a while, you have developed impressions of lots of people (rightly or wrongly) and they do effect who and how you read.

But thank heavens there are so many good books to choose from these days! And so many new sub-genres and creative writers. All you have to do is keep looking. . . and sooner or later you'll find something that gives you a buzz.

anne frasier said...

i pick apart everything i read and watch. it's pretty pathetic. i even try to edit my own life.

Nonny said...

No, it's not just you. I went through the same thing after being a member of critique groups and writing communities for long enough.

For about two and a half years, I read ... mmm, maybe 4 books, because I'd trained myself to look for all the little details. So when I read a book that broke "rule" after "rule" after "rule" -- it hit the wall. >_<

On the bright side, it's nowhere near as bad these days. I've been able to get back to enjoying a book without ripping it apart, but it took a long time and me recognising that following "rules" did not inherently make a good novel.

anne frasier said...

other reasons i don't read:

i've noticed i feel very guilty when i'm reading. it's leisure time, and i don't have leisure time. if i judge a contest, i don't feel guilty. then i have permission to read.

my vision gets worse all the time and it's physically harder to read. I've quit reading the newspaper for that reason.

Mia said...

It's definitely not you. I pick books apart and now I understand how scripts are developed and created I tend to pick movies apart as well. (which can be a major downer when you just want to sit back, relax, and watch a no brainer. . .)