I can’t read books anymore.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m currently reading Love, Lies & Hocus Pocus book 2 by Lydia Sherrer and enjoying it. Before that I ripped through a beta read for a friend that I enjoyed. (I tend not to rip through books I don’t enjoy.) Before that I read Space Drifters book 1 by Paul Regnier. And before that…
(Incidentally, both books I linked above I highly recommend. I can’t recommend the other book yet since it’s not published. Well, I could, but it wouldn’t help you at all.)
But you get the point. I’m still reading allthebooks.
But I can’t read them anymore.
At least, I can’t read them the way I used to. In the past, I could consume a story and revel in it and move on. Pretty straightforward, right?
But now, even as I’m enjoying a story, I’m thinking things like:
- Why did the author make that choice?
- How did they pitch this story to a publisher?
- This pacing is interesting.
- Their editor missed a lot of typos.
- If I were to outline this, where would the tentpole moments be?
- I bet this author is a pantser.
(If you’re not sure what a pantser is – it’s a writer who writes “by the seat of their pants.” Some authors outline, some write without any plan. I tend to write without much of a plan, discovering the story as I go.)
Basically, I’m reading books in a similar way to how I watch movies: I’m enjoying both the presentation of the story as well as thinking about the behind-the-scenes movements. I drive my Bride nuts with this. We’ll be watching a movie, and I’ll comment on the choice of camera angle, or the musical themes, or the director’s choices, or…
And it doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the movie. Actually, often enough if I’m commenting on something, it’s because I’m enjoying it. I’m digging not just into the art, but how this specific piece of art was created.
But for books, it’s become something else entirely. See, now that I’m delving more and more into the publishing end of things, I start asking specific questions like How did they pitch this story to a publisher? Because as I’m thinking about the novel I’m working on, one of the things I’m looking at is marketability. Do I pitch to a publisher? Do I self-publish? Do I just write and never bother trying to send it out to the world?
And because I’m thinking allthethoughts about my book(s), that bleeds over into the stories I’m taking in.
And that means I’m not just reading anymore. I’m looking at any piece of fiction on two levels.
I don’t know if I like that. I haven’t decided yet. On one hand, it means I get to appreciate the art on a different level, and that’s kind of cool. I get to catch what the author was doing, and why they were doing it, on a whole different level.
On the other hand, I’m having a hard time simply enjoying a story as a story.
So, be forewarned: If you’re looking at being a writer, it’ll change how you read forever.
For those of you who are writers who find themselves reading in a wholly different way: Do you enjoy this “other level” of reading? Does it bother you? If you’re able to switch of writer-brain and simply enjoy reading again, how do you do it?