Reading Binge; Why I Write

So I’ve been in the midst of a reading binge this week. I decided I needed some time off from the pressures I’ve been putting on my writing and reading felt like the thing I really wanted to do. So I’ve been reading. A lot.

Too many books to keep up with! I’ve added those I’ve finished to the reading log. I’ve also read several of my own books again and some of my fan fiction too. Counting the started but unfinished books off in my head, there are more of them than I’ve finished. And I was pretty far into some of those books.

I can feel the binge slowing though. I’ve spent more time today looking for something to read than actually reading. I’ve read some good books that have made me crave other books that are similar but just a bit different, with this thing or that, and I’m kind of stuck in that place where nothing’s satisfying now, because nothing’s just what I want.

Meaning I’m feeling the urge to write my own stories, ones that satisfy me exactly. Last night I put down 300ish words on new story, trying to get a feel for it since it’s a bit different than my other books. Although truthfully I’m not sure it’s going to go anywhere. I start stuff a lot that never goes anywhere.

And I left my novella characters in the middle of a foot chase, so there’s that too that I need to get back to.

Another thing I realized while reading my own fan fiction though (something I finished days before I turned to writing original fiction again) is that I still feel like I’m trying too hard with my current stuff, having a hard time enjoying myself because I’m just not relaxing into the writing like I should. Ego or not, that fan fiction was good. I remember a few issues I had with the beginning of the story and how I had to do some edits on it to get it the way I wanted it to feel as I read it, but I certainly didn’t agonize over it and it reads as good as or better than some of my most recent stuff as best as I can tell.

The fact is, I can’t be objective, and I know that, but I know how it makes me feel when I read it and I’ve said it before, I love my own stuff the way a reader loves those great stories that make you want to re-read a book over and over again. I won’t ever let myself put out a book that I don’t love that way. But it’s possible I’ve come close.

When I go over my books in my head, there’s one that I haven’t re-read but a few times—many fewer times than any of my others. It’s not my worst selling book, not by far, but it’s book two of a series I have and when I think of it, I don’t get flashes of scenes that I remember that are just so juicy they make me want to go back and read them again just to feel the feelings those words make me feel. Even writing this I’m struggling to remember any one scene in the book that just makes me go—oh, wait. Maybe I’m forgetting something here because now the ending is coming to me and I’m realizing that I have read that section of that book quite a few times. I can remember the way one of my characters looked in that scene, wearing a t-shirt, belt and gun, even visualize how his hair looked and how he was standing, and how it surprised another character to see someone they’d never thought of as dangerous looking quite a bit less harmless than usual. It was a good scene. So never mind. Maybe I just need to read the book again from the beginning. ;)

The thing is I want to remember my stories. I want to remember every little detail of each one, and I enjoy going over bits and pieces of them in my head like a movie on an automatically replaying loop.

This is why I have trouble with the idea that writing is a way to get a story out of my head. Because that’s not how it is for me. Writing is the way I get a story into my head. Reading has exactly the same purpose for me.

This is also probably some of the reason I’ll never be able to write to market. I don’t control the stories I write. I write to passion. It’s the only way I can write. Some of those good books I’ve read this week have made me wish this book or that had had just a bit more of this or less of that, just missing the spot for me and in the process giving me lots of intriguing flashes of ideas that I’d love to be able to take and write stories to them. But I can’t write in most of the genres I’ve been reading in. I don’t know how to create a good story out of the daily trials of a normal life. I like big, and bad, and over the top, and what ideas I get, I don’t know where they come from, but the small moments, the tension of a slow story eludes me in my writing.

I guess it’s time I made myself try one just to push myself as a writer. I honest to God didn’t think I’d be able to write the third book in one of my series because it went somewhere I wasn’t sure I could go as a writer—a character had to change significantly from the start of the book to the end. I remember conversations I had about that book with my mother where I worried I wouldn’t be able to make that change, turn a fairly unsympathetic character into a good guy. A hero.

And it worked out. I am really proud of that book. But I definitely had to push myself—step out of my comfort zone—to write that story. Maybe it’s time to do that again very soon.

Anyway, just some thoughts I’ve been having this afternoon. I think I’m going to let this be my cue to get back to writing now since I don’t have another book I want to read queued up. :D