I am in the midst of a passionate love affair with my new Kindle. I’m not the only one in love with a Kindle, I’m sure of that. Before any of you think that I’m on the payroll of Amazon, I’m not. I’m just the kind of person who likes to read more than one book at once, and having many books on one device gives me a lot of joy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is what I’m reading right now. It’s not my standard fare, but I’m enjoying it greatly. I’m only five chapters in, but I can’t stop. The characters, the plotting, and the intrigue are thrilling. One small problem I have with it, though, is the large amount of exposition. Speeches almost a full page in length, where a character is simply relaying information to another character, and the reader, seem surprisingly prevalent. Maybe some interjections from the listening party to break up the monologue and bring it back to a dialogue would have helped.
This is not a book review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Nor is this a criticism of Steig Larsson’s wonderful book that has me completely hooked. But, I believe quite strongly that being a writer has colored the way I read. I find myself thinking about what I would have done differently. I find myself wishing that I’d have thought of such a great character or story idea. I find myself disappointed that a story hasn’t gone the way I hoped it would, and I find myself giddy with joy at an unexpected turn that catches me by surprise.
Trying to see these emotions as writing lessons in my own writing is something that I continually strive for. Of course, I’m not talking about re-using ideas, or taking a character like Lisbeth Salander and re-creating her under a new name and face. I’m talking about searching myself as a reader and striving to understand the “why” behind my reaction (positive or negative) and to take that information and use it as a writer.
I believe that it is an important skill, and it’s one I work continually work to develop.
There is a pitfall to this, however. That would be, comparing myself to other writers. It’s a habit that I have. I think my natural inclination, when I read something I think is really wonderful, is to think that my work is not or never will be as good.
I’m not sure I’ve found a good way to avoid these thoughts entirely. But, once I do have them, I find it comforting to remember that everyone is their own worst critic. It’s a horrible cliché, but sometimes things become clichés because they are the truth.
Now, back to reading…