Reading, Read, Writing (or not writing, as the case may be)

I am at one of those weird places where I am simultaneously reading 3 books, and don’t know what I want to read. I am also feeling unsure about my writing.

About the books I am reading:

  • The Name Of The Wind  by Patrick Rothfuss- audiobook. I started this one on my drive up to Chattanooga for the Writing the Other retreat and workshop. Interested in finishing it, but got some books from the library I needed to get through first.
  • Partials by Dan Wells- a reread of this books so I have the background to read the second book in the series, Fragments. is my nightstand book
  • The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker – audiobook – checked out from library, based on in-podcast recommendation from Howard Taylor of Writing Excuses

Books I just finished:

  • Shaman Rising –C.E. Murphy – last in the series of The Walker Papers – author did a great job wrapping up the story, and bringing characters back from earlier books to get resolution
  • The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennett– by Bernie Su and, Kate Rorick – See my blog post

Seeking Book to Read

bookshelf-closetAudiobooks have their place – car rides and housecleaning. My nightstand book is a book I leave to read before bed. I usually also carry around a book in my backpack /purse / grubby-little-hands to read when opportunity arises. Having finished Shaman Rising and the Lizzie Bennet book, I stopped by my bookcase this morning to try to pick my next read. (Yes, with the exception of top shelf, they are all two deep. And yes, that used to be a closet – my husband is quite handy 🙂 )

I skimmed the shelves of books I’ve read and books I’ve not yet read, and I nothing struck my fancy. I know myself well enough that if something doesn’t jump out at me as “ooh, I want to read that,” and instead I go with “I guess I could read this”, I either read the first 3 pages and put the book down, or carry it around for several days without cracking the spine (so to speak), or reading a word.

And this morning I began to wonder if my feeling antsy and uncertain about what I want to read is in any way tied in to how I am feeling antsy and uncertain about my writing.

What I am Writing, or What I am Creatively Procrastinating from Writing

My current work in progress is a retelling of a fairy tale in a modern setting.. I had a very specific end goal, and I had trouble starting the story. I gave myself permission to start the draft with “Once Upon a Time”, and was able to go from there. And get stuck again. And again. I finally got a 7 point plot outline I mentioned, and thought I was good to go.

Nope. While I had identified main plot points, I still wasn’t making time to write my story. I took two very productive walks while visiting my in-laws this weekend that let me think through some of the issues, and resolve some character stuff.  I emailed a reference librarian with questions about how local governments worked.Yesterday, I sat down with the 7 point outline, and made a new outline of all the events that need to happen to get from the beginning of the story to the end. I ended up calling my sister part of the way through the 30 minutes I set for myself to write (the minimum “butt-in-chair” time I was aiming for), and in a 10 minute conversation worked through the antagonist actions that my protagonist is actually having to fight against (I knew *why* the villain was working against her, I just didn’t know *how*).

And will all those things done, and my shiny new outline, I called it a night. And wondered what to read.

And today I wonder if my being unable to find something to read is the subconscious part of my brain not wanting to take in more, because doing so will somehow spoil the work I’ve been doing on my own story. I wonder if my mind is percolating on all the elements, and tonight when I down for my writing date with fellow writer at the library, I should expect brilliance.

And I know that is not fair to myself. I should never expect brilliance, because getting the words down on the page is enough – I can clean them up later. And I wonder if that is what is holding me back. That I’ve been expecting brilliance from myself, comparing myself somehow to the books I’ve been reading – you know, the ones authors have spend time writing, re-writing, editing and agonizing over. And I am somehow expecting myself to create something I feel is on par with that – in a first draft.

So even if it is not my subconscious trying to tell me anything, my sitting down to analyze this had taught me something – well reminded me. Tonight, when I sit down to write, the only thing I need to expect of myself is that I will write. The brilliance can be worked in later.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

[cryout-column width=”1/3″]SecretDiaryOfLizzieBennet[/cryout-column] [cryout-column width=”2/3″] [/cryout-column]    As a treat to myself last week, I bought the Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet – it is a companion work to the YouTube series, The  Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It is, for those of you not versed in the Austen-verse, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, where the main character, one Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennet, is a grad student in mass communications, and the video series which end up documenting a year of her life, capturing the trials and tribulations of her own life, as well as her two sisters Jane and Lydia, and her best friend, one Charlotte Lu, as well as her infuriating and confusing interactions with Mr. Bing Lee, his sister Caroline, and his taciturn friend, William Darcy.

I was introduced to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries well after they were complete, and I don’t know if that was unfortunate (I didn’t get the joy of watching the story unfold “real time”), or a blessing (I got to watch the whole story over the course of one week). And I am not ashamed to admit they bring me great joy to watch. (Why yes, I have read and listened to Pride and Prejudice at least a half-dozen times, and own the 6-hour BBC mini-series starring Colin Firth – why do you ask?) I do love the story, and this retelling is fun, and brilliant, so once I knew the companion book was available, it was a no-brainer for me.

It should also be unsurprising that I read the book in a little more than 24 hours (if I hadn’t been visiting family, be assured it would have been consumed much more quickly). I think what the authors of the work did was brilliant – what you are reading is, supposedly, the actual journal that Lizzie keeps. The dates follow along with the posted videos, and I think it enhances the video experience with some behind-the-scenes stuff (extra information about relationships that were too private to post on the videos), and some more insight into the main character.

My first reading was just that, a reading, but I am looking forward to going back to the playlist of videos, and watching them in conjunction with the book. One experience I will not get is reading the book first, or alone, and then watching or discovering the videos. These works, the video series and the book, I feel are both stand-alone pieces that compliment each other (the entries for the days after the two most squee-inducing videos are straight-up transcripts of the videos – a brilliant move on the authors’ part), and if you are an Austen fan (or a fan of cool transmedia experiences), I would recommend this to you in a heartbeat.

Now to get myself a red moleskine of my own…