“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write: a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” ― Samuel Johnson
True words indeed. I’m feeling the hard, thick truth of them right now as I wobble in between books two and three of The Reinhold Chronicles. For the first time in about three years, I don’t have a story that I’m actively writing, editing, or planning from scratch. Book One―The Fiery Arrow―is finished and has suffered two rounds of my editing. Now it’s in the hands of a couple early beta readers, and after their scrutiny it’ll move on to my professional editor, the wonderful Linda Yezak. Book Two is finished, and I’m letting it sit and steep before making any edits. I need to gain a little more objectivity before I return to the story. And Book Three lingers in the shadows, thoroughly sketched and generally outlined―no longer a valley of dry bones but still something of a walking skeleton.
So I’m reading lots of various books. And testing out a new character’s point of view for Book Three. Still, I am suffering from a deep case of writing withdrawal. I keep remembering that, no matter how important it is to consume books like a hobbit consumes second breakfast, writing is my passion―my occupation. Oftentimes writing just a little something (even if it seems mediocre at best) proves much better than writing nothing at all.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how many people are chasing you, what you don’t read is often as important as what you do read.” ― Lemony Snicket
As usual, Lemony Snicket is right. Anyone who’s read much Snicket knows that the main theme throughout all his books is the importance of reading―and of reading good books. Snicket’s protagonists are always voracious consumers of quality literature. Maybe that’s why I relate so much. I sympathize when the Baudelaire orphans are mocked by the villains for an interesting reason:
“They’re book addicts.” ― Lemony Snicket
Yep. Pretty much describes me. However, returning the the first Snicket quote, I find an unusual parallel to the writing life. What you don’t write is often as important as what you do write. To take it a step further: not writing anything can be more deadly than throwing yourself into writing something really difficult. Something new. Something you haven’t planned at all.
That’s the path I am taking at present. Earlier this week, I got a flash of inspiration for a new short story, a story quite different from anything I’ve written. It’s dark and angsty, and it’s written in a first-person present POV. I’ve had trouble adjusting to this. Writing in present confuses my past-tense brain to an infinite degree. But, of course, that’s a good thing. The only way to stretch your brain is to change things up―read a new book, play the piece of music at a different tempo, write in a different perspective.
I could wait. I could have planned and outlined every detail of the story first. Somehow, though, I think the story will turn out better without any prior planning. And, to borrow more wisdom from Lemony Snicket:
“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” ― Lemony Snicket
Oh, and a big P.S.: K.M. Weiland’s dieselpunk adventure novel Storming released on Friday. I had the pleasure of reading the book in advance of its release, and I can assure you it’s a tale worth reading. You can read my full review here.