Saturday, January 19, 2013

Reading vs Writing

Back in the days of my innocence I read voraciously, sometimes consuming two or three books a week.   Even after life got complicated I ticked along at a book a week, plus magazines.  Graduate school and work cut me back to two books a month.  Then I decided to start writing and saw my reading decline almost to nonexistence.

It seems strange that the act of creating stories out of whole cloth would diminish the need for reading, but it's more an issue of time management than desire.  Oh, I still read books and magazines, but only when I get blocked in my writing or something particularly interesting comes along - like a dedicated copy from another writer, which is sort of an obligation.  It seems that the more I write the less I read.  In the last year I've barely finished a few novels, which is less than I start because I abandon many after the first fifty pages.  I also have to be careful about reading my favorite writers fearing I'd unconsciously adopt their style. That would not necessarily be bad, but it's not what I want.

Each year, around this time of year the Hugo and Nebula nominations are requested and I realize how far behind I have gotten.  This guilt kicks off an orgy of reading one novel or short after another. This requires trips to the local libraries, bookstores, and, if a con is nearby, the dealer's room.  Yes, and it is also time to attack the pile of books and magazines that accumulate on my bookshelves over months of neglect.  Inevitably, my writing suffers when I give so much time to reading, to considering so many novel ideas, to enjoy so many and varied voices.  But while I wail at the loss of writing time, I revel in the vistas revealed, the concepts presented by writers with greater imaginations and skill than my own, and submerge myself in wonder. At the same time, I despair at the Herculean effort it would take to clean out the Augean stables' of unread backlog.  There is never enough time to keep up with the literary output of this genre, let along the larger market.

Eventually I feel the irresistible, burning need to return to writing, despite the vast amount of untouched fiction.  I don't regret the time taken for reading, thinking it a worthwhile tradeoff and vow to stay current in the future.

As I have every year.

1 comment:

Thanks for reading my blog!