On Writing and Reading

It is a given, that authors read. They are the most avid consumers of literature, because inspiration can be found within the pages of a fresh book. Different ways of viewing things, new ideas, new avenues of exploration, are attractive incentives for authors to read.

I support reading. It grows the mind and the soul. But I also understand the lack of motivation to pick up a novel.

I love writing. I love creating worlds, characters, plots, mayhem. My want to read, however, took a plunge during my years as a librarian. I’ve wondered why, since reading was my fantasy get-away in my younger years, and my life would have proven much poorer without those buoying words. In those days, I read Wendy Pini, Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffery, Ursula LeGuin, and loved their worlds, loved their strong women characters. I even created my own character, that hopped between those worlds and inserted herself into all the action.

And that plunged into oblivion when I began my librarian job.

I’ve pondered this since I left that job, and focused on it recently because I just published my first two ebooks (Shiobe Rising and Trouble in Tindrel). And I wondered, who might pick them up, who might read them? Not so long ago, I would have assumed someone like me. Now, someone like me picks up a book or two once or twice a year, and spends her time writing rather than reading.

Why the reluctance to pick up a book? It’s not like I don’t need a fantasy getaway anymore–I do, more than ever. Some of it, I am certain, stems from my having to read children’s book upon children’s book, the award winners (yawn), the award losers (yawn), the books about dead dogs (OK, so No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman has a great title and ended up not being so bad), the books about overcoming adversity in such a sickeningly-sweet way. The books that depicted the status quo as under attack and worth defending, the books that claimed you can be who you want to be, but only on the weekends, at prescribed hours. I found it depressing and uninspiring, to read glowing review after glowing review of books I considered trash.

No different, I suppose, than the majority of adult works. But I wasn’t required to read the Chicken Soup series or Nicolas Sparks for my job.

I also realized, I associated books, physical items one can bury their nose in, with a toxic work environment. I consider my years as a librarian to be one of the most degrading and depressing things I’ve ever done, made moreso by the fact people assume being a librarian is a fun, easy job–meaning I should have automatically loved it. Instead, it ground my soul into the ground and left me there to rot. I pick up a book, I think library, and I put it right back down.

It’s not that I never read, but the majority of the words that pass my eye are more news-oriented in nature nowadays. I’ve wondered about easing back into reading, maybe just focusing on ebooks, but even that makes me feel wary. Slowly, though, I am looking through digital books, to find something that strikes me, that isn’t the trad publishing “it’s been done, over and over and over again, but it sells” stories. I’ve been reading world-building articles on World Anvil, which are a page or two in length, but can contain bits of inspiration and uniqueness.

Oddly, the most difficult part has been giving myself permission to not read. It feels blasphemous, especially for a writer. I’m relieved, though, that my writing hasn’t taken a similar hit. That has been the center of my life since I was eleven. No longer writing would be a mini-death for me.

Like what you’ve read? Follow the blog! Shiobe Rising and Trouble in Tindrel are for sale as ebooks in the Kindle Store and Barnes and Noble website. You can also buy me a Ko-fi!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: