Monthly Archives: July 2012

Reading, Reading, Reading

I’m not fond of being a slow reader. I discovered I read slowly fairly early on. There are people who read two books (or more) a week and that just befuddles me. There are occasional books that will take me a week to read, but often a book–a novel, that is–will take me a month, which is one reason I attempt to read more than one book at a time.

My mother used to read nearly a book a day, and at first that kind of upset me. Sure, I was 13 and she was 27 years my senior, but still. As I got a little older, in high school, I discounted her total by saying, “They’re mostly Harlequin novels.” This wasn’t an entirely fair assessment. Yes, they were formulaic. Yes, they were often the size of the covers for my Stephen King novels, but still, they were books. My mother, who bought a Kindle a few years back and hasn’t read Harlequin novels for probably 15 years, still manages to read several books a week. I’m still stuck with one or two a month.

I had a professor last summer who said I wasn’t a slow reader so much as a careful reader. I have professed to enjoy letting the language of the novels I’m reading to melt on my tongue like good chocolate, but is that a good thing? I know it’s not a race, but come on.

The book-a-month isn’t set in concrete. There are novels that I speed through. Nonfiction also tends to move faster. But it still stings. On Twitter, I feel stupid posting my #Fridayreads because many times it’s the same goddamn book! Here’s a for instance for ya:

I just finished rereading Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels, including the new one, The Wind Through the Keyhole. Eight books in this series. I began reading them in January. I finished The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower (I read them chronologically, placing The Wind Through the Keyhole between books IV and V) last week. I even put down the other novel I was reading, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad, to focus my attention on Unca Steve’s books. Of course, within days of finishing The Dark Tower, I finally finished Goon Squad (I loved it).

Because of my slowness, there are many books I haven’t read that I desperately want to. I have had books in my To-Be-Read pile for nearly a decade. Of course, there are always new ones added. It doesn’t help that classes I’ve taken throughout those 10 years have forced me off my own track and onto their tracks for a bit.

So I do my best. Right now I’m reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which I’ve never read and was at the top of my stack o’ books even before his recent death. It’s length makes me believe I should be done with it by the end of this week, maybe even sooner. I’m also reading Joe Hill’s Locke and Key, Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft. I may also begin one of the nonfiction books I have about the television industry, one by Bill Carter and the other by Warren Littlefield. There are still some writing friends whose books I have to read, not to mention the classics….

Yeah. Well, I have my work cut out for me. Enjoy your reading, while I might be behind, I know I’ll enjoy mine.

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Revisionary Attitude

My feelings on revising my work are the same feelings I have for cooking: I hate the idea of it, leading up to it, and actually beginning it, but once I start it I love it. When it’s my night to cook I loathe the idea of it. I’ll be here at my desk, or on the couch reading, or doing somedamnthing or another and want to do just about anything but cook. That involves planning, and messes, and work. But once I’ve set up my mise en place, once I have the ingredients in my hands and I’ve begun, I have a real enjoyable time. And when my wife and I (or my wife, my daughter, and I) sit down to eat, the enjoyment that is had from my cooking is like a drug, addicting. (Don’t tell my wife any of the stuff I just wrote, she’ll want me to cook all the time).

Revising my writing is the same thing. The novel that I’ve been working on for four years now has taken four years because it took me nearly a year-and-a-half to begin the revising process. Now, that will probably make you believe I am not acting professionally, but I wasn’t just sitting around watching dust gather on my 158,300 word (763 ms pages, Courier New font) manuscript. I was also:

  1. Getting used to being a teacher.
  2. Having to relocate abruptly thanks to the economy.
  3. Working on the pre-publication revisions for Alice on the Shelf.
  4. Writing, revising, and working on the pre-publication revisions of Shadowed.
  5. Writing and revising the novella I wrote that was spawned on by Shadowed.
  6. Going through time-consuming classes to renew my teaching license.

You get the idea. Maybe those are excuses, but they don’t feel like it to me. That explains the (so far) four-year process on this novel. But about a year-and-a-half of it was…well…I’d rather work on a novella than revise that monster, or I’d rather (fill in the blank) than revise that big fuckin’ novel. But alas, the time came and I began and…well…I love working on it.

It’s a monumental task. I decided that a semi-major character was going to be edited out. I decided that two minor characters would pick up some of the slack. I decided that certain plot points were really lame and the new ideas that came from nowhere seemed so much better. It’s like discovering a new spice that really makes the food taste that much better.

So the work continues. I’ve got a 39,000 word second draft (140 pages, Times New Roman font) and growing. And that’s where I am at this moment.

Oh, and those links to Alice on the Shelf and Shadowed above? Both of those books are available and have links on their respective pages for where you can buy them. Those sales make the revisions so much sweeter.

 

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