November 12, 2012

where to land

I’m not sure exactly how I ended up seeing this post --- well, I know I clicked through on Twitter, but I’m not sure who posted the link.  But anyway... Jesse at Staircase Wit posts some great ideas about getting out of a reading slump.

I think we’ve all been there, even those of us work in publishing or who write for a living (or "a living").  There's always a question of where to land next.

But whenever I’m not reading, I’m not writing… and that’s a problem.  Reading is the single, main activity that inspires me to  pick up a pen or sit down in front of the computer.  It's the match that sparks the fire.

Apart from this (admittedly crucial) causal relationship, I’m not sure if this feeling is any different for writers than it is for readers.   It might be that like chefs or foodies, one’s tastes may have become more finicky.   Once you’ve tasted fine cuisine, the idea of digging into a plate of reheated frozen French fries is less appealing than it might have been before.  (Then again…when you’re hungry, food’s food.  And who doesn’t like frozen French fries every once in a while?)

Every once in a while, I put through a book order of a bunch of books I’m excited about, but then sometimes….a book isn’t what I thought it was (a good argument for browsing in one's neighbourhood bookstore -- or at least using the 'Click to look inside!' feature when it's available online).  The print is too small or the voice doesn’t grab me right away.  I thought it was going to be homestyle cream of leek and instead it's...powdered mashed potatoes.   

Well, I know when I've arrived at instant potatoes I've gone too far (life lesson!), but I think you know what I mean.  It's good to have a few reliable ways to find something good (or wonderful) to read.  Mostly, I badger writers I trust into recommending something they've liked.  And I don't think the Booker Prize list has ever steered me wrong -- that's one sticker I trust. 

At the moment I'm reading a friend's wonderful MS.  Maybe I'm dragging it out a little because I'm not sure where I'll land next. 


jdoogan said...

Hey, thanks for the link! I love what you say about reading being "the match that sparks the fire." Love it.

Now to go find some (literal and metaphorical) cream of leek soup...

Alice Zorn said...

Your metaphor about foodies and reading and tastes is apt.
I don't think (knock on wood) that I've ever had a full-fledged reading slump. I can't imagine it. If it were to happen, I worry that I might just stop breathing altogether. Reading sparks the fire, yes, but it's even more than that.
Maybe no slumps, but I get depressed when I start reading a book that feels dull. Then, if I pick up a second book, and it feels dull too... Life gets all grey on me.
Interesting that you and Anita, both writers, are writing blog posts about reading.

saleema said...

Contagious dullness! A frightening prospect.