The contemporary writer has a lot on her hands. She has to be a publicist, a career manager, an agent, a distributor, a social media guru, an agent provacateuse, a literary lawyer, etcetera, ad infinitum. And of course, she needs to put all her passion and energy into writing; after all, that’s what it’s all about, right?
Oh, and one more thing: She has to read. She has to read what’s hot and new in order to keep up with what’s happening in the literary world, AND if she writes genre fiction (mystery, young adult, romance, fantasy, science fiction, thriller, horror, etc.) she needs to read extensively in that genre to keep up with what’s happening in that field. If she writes in more than one genre, or if she blends genres (as Gail Upp and I do in World Enough and Time, the novel we are writing), she needs to read extensively in those genres to keep up…you get it.
So when do you get the time? Especially since there are actually very few writers who write full-time, and derive their full incomes from writing. Most of us have jobs, family, friends, activities. You know: A life.
I solve part of the problem by reading in the cracks of time in my schedule. At meals (unless we have company), while on line at the credit union or grocery store (my Nook comes in handy here), in the bathroom (that’s where I catch up on magazines). Fortunately, I’m a very fast reader, so I can get through a book in a day if I don’t have to practice, or learn new music, or have a lesson, or a rehearsal, or an audition, or a concert/service. And if I have enough time and energy after doing my daily dose of writing, re-writing, editing, research and agonizing.
So the pile of books To Be Read becomes two piles, then three. The magazines
multiply, as do, just incidentally, the newspapers. What’s a girl to do?
So, I’ve become VERY selective in my reading. Is a book badly written? I drop it. Is a magazine article something I’ll never use, or is boring, or (as is sometimes the case in Scientific American) I don’t understand? Skip to the next article. In the newspapers I read the headlines, the agony aunt (for the psychology and story ideas), the book and music (mostly classical) reviews and updates, and (full disclosure) the comics. I’ve developed an extremely low tolerance for the bad, the boring, the useless, the time-waster. Do I run the risk of missing something I can use, or would like? Of course. But no system is perfect, and this at least keeps me sane.
What keeps you sane as far as your reading life is concerned? How do you handle the need to read? Let us know. You might be helping a fellow writer keep her head above water?
Until next time…keep reading.