The first few years that I was writing, I was convinced that if I read novels while actively writing my own, the styles of those already-published novels would somehow leak into my writing, making it unauthentic. I saved reading as a reward for completing drafts and would binge for several weeks, gobbling up the stories I’d pushed aside while pouring out words of my own.
I’m not sure when I changed my way of thinking, but I think I realized that I’m happier when I’m reading, and since I do all my writing in the morning, that leaves plenty of time in my day for reading as well. Seems simple enough, but I still sometimes worry that I’ll hijack my book-de-jour’s style and my novel will end up a mish-mash of other people’s writing.
This summer I’m tackling a complete rewrite of a novel I wrote in 2008 – something I’ve never done. With each novel I try to find a way to challenge myself, so restructuring a novel that was written as women’s fiction with 3 POVs (points of view) to young adult with 2 POVs is my challenge this time around. I’ve written a few notes about major changes, then started reading the book that’s been “trunked” since 2010 (when I stopped querying and wrote Flicker). As you can see from the picture below, I’m six chapters in. I’m enjoying it more than I expected, but the amount of work ahead of me has kept me from getting into it.
Last night I told Jeremy that I know I should be reading my manuscript, but I really wanted to read one of the new releases sitting patiently on my TBR pile. “How long will it take you to read the other book?” he asked. I replied, “a couple days,” and he gave me the green light. I dove into Darcy Woods’ SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS (OMG I’m loving it so much!) and just as I was falling asleep, the perfect new beginning to my own novel played through my head. As I recited the lines, I argued with myself that yes, I could recapture the comfortable position I was in. I just needed to get up for a few minutes. The winning argument that finally got me out of bed: WHAT IF YOU FORGET IN THE MORNING?
I got up, scribbled a page of notes, then brought the notebook back to the bedroom because once the faucet opens, the ideas are hard to turn off. This morning I typed up my notes as the official start to my new outline. I feel like I’ve advanced to the level 2 writer: she who can read and write at the same time.