Current Project: NMMNG
Status: Page 30
Sorry for the late posting! What is the longest stretch you have ever gone without reading a novel? Back in college and graduate school, I would routinely go the 3-4 months of the term without being able to read fiction of my own choosing. I would then spend the breaks gorging on fiction. One of my favorite rituals was the day-after-finals library run. In the last six (GULP!) years though, I have become really spoiled. As you all well know, I am a voracious reader, and my book-every-other-day habit has sustained me through job changes, pregnancy, and early motherhood. For the past several years, I have known that if I truly want to write more, I should read less--it *should* be one of the easier things to let go. However, reading is my main form of stress relief, and I just haven't wanted to make that sacrifice. In the last two weeks, however, I have not finished a book. Instead, bedtime finds me with my book light still in hand, but with a yellow legal pad across my knees as I use the time for writing.
In the past, many of our speakers have lamented the fact that they are no longer readers with any great regularity, and I have secretly vowed to myself that that I would *always* sustain my reading pace, but in addition to simply *wanting* it more, something else has happened in the last year or so: I enjoy reading less. GASP. I found myself chucking more books against the wall, reading more like a writer--dissecting scenes and cliches, and really searching for the gems that let me truly escape. I found myself obsessed with nonfiction narratives about mothering and was stymied as to why until my best friend told me, "Duh! Bethany! Your mind wants you to give birth to and nurture a new book."
A light bulb went on and stayed brightly lit as I plotted this new book. The spark of wanting IT--the golden ring of success--grew and grew until I was willing to make some new sacrifices, and reading time was chief among them.
This worked awesome for about a week and half and the point of this blog was going to be about how the no-reading diet was working wonders for me, but like Debbie, I hit a wall writing wise and other stressors crept in and the NEED TO READ was this palpable beast following me around. I get discouraged that my paragraph by paragraph, page by page progress really isn't that much, and I get ahead of myself thinking about a tough winter term I have and if I will even be able to finish this book. Deep breath. And I need to read to escape those voices in my head. So I have played games with the need to read--I can read read after I write at least a paragraph which often leads to pages as I hit the momentum again. I carry my yellow pad and plotting book around with me the way I do my knitting, and word by word I am getting there.
Do you read less now than when you started writing? Has the trade off been worth it for you? If you read less, what other ways do you reduce stress? By reading less, do you enjoy it more when you do get a chance to read?