Sunday, January 29, 2012

Being a Reader and a Writer

I used to love to read romance. I could spend hours lost in the story of someone else's happily ever after. Once I'd start one, I'd pretty much be lost to anything else as I hungrily devoured each and every sentence and page, not putting the book down until I'd read the very last word.

I still love romance. But it's harder to read these days. Especially when I'm in the middle of my own story. If I'm working on a mss, reading another romance is too distracting. I can't get caught up in another story when I need to be caught up in mine. And then there are those rules. As a writer, we're taught to follow certain 'rules' in romance: POV, show, don't tell, stay away from -ly words, etc. etc. So it drives me crazy when I'm reading a romance when the author doesn't follow these rules.

Sometimes I get dejected, too. As I read I think I won't ever be able to write a story as good as this one. Of course I swing the other way, too, and get haughty with the How in the world did this ever get published? I am a million times better than this.

And then I've been judging contest entries. I don't mind helping my RWA chapter out, but I tend to be a very critical judge. Maybe moreso than is warranted. It's those rules again. Since I'm in the middle of a mss trying very hard to follow those rules myself, all I can spot in the entries I'm reading are the times the author hasn't followed them. (And isn't it funny how it's so much easier to find these 'errors' in another's writing than in your own?) It makes it difficult to get into the story.

It kind of bums me out that reading romance isn't quite as much fun as it used to be. I got a Kindle for Christmas and it's already loaded with lots of books: mostlys romance, but not all. I also bought a whole bunch of paperback series romance when Borders went out of business. But I'm having a hard time getting motivated to read any of this. Maybe when I'm done with the mss I'm working on I'll be more in the mood.

For now, since I can't be without something to read, I've picked up the Harry Potter series again. I've read it a couple of times already, but, not only is it a good story, it's a safe story for now. Completely different in style and genre than what I'm working on. So there's no confusion. No noticing when rules are broken. I tend to read a lot of YA these days. Mostly first person, which again is different from anything I'm working on, so it doesn't mess with my head or creative flow.

*sigh* It's tough to be a romance writer who's also a reader.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



Deb Larson said...

I'm right there with you on all accounts. I had to take a break from judging this year - and I'm enjoying my writing and reading a lot more. I don't like being critical, but geesh! folks need to learn and if someone doesn't mention the obvious, not much progress is made.
Thanks for sharing with us!!
DL Larson

Debra St. John said...

Hey Deb,

That's a good way to look at it. I know I've learned a lot from entering contests...maybe I can help someone else on their journey to publication.

Morgan Mandel said...

I know exactly how you feel, also, Deb. My mood swings are the same as yours, between wishing I could write better and wondering how the other author ever got published!

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Margot Justes said...

I go throught the same thing, if I pick up a really well written story, I wish I could write that wll, then I read something and wonder how on earth did that get published and by a big house too.
Hearts & Daggers

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