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That reading thing

Once upon a time, I was a big book nerd. I won all the book-reading contests at the public library. You could find me on any given afternoon kicking back on my bed reading something. I think that was true at least up through college.

Then stuff happened.

First, I went to grad school and had piles and piles of required reading. By the end of the PhD, I was burnt out on reading. Second, I actually got around to writing fiction, my long-time dream. Between writing coaches and fan fic readers and the sheer joy of writing, I started spending every spare moment I had writing. To the detriment of my social life (and any other part of life). Third, I started a successful fan website and proceeded to obsessively work on that in my free time. Then those TV shows were cancelled and I cancelled my cable TV and went back to writing fiction again obsessively. Finally, I finally broke down and got cable again and started watching TV a lot.

Suffice it to say, I haven't done a lot of reading for pleasure in the past thirteen years, unless you count the internet, and then, not fiction of any sort on the internet. I miss it. And yet I find it a big time-suck and don't do it. I mean, if anything's going to suck up all my time and be a huge detriment to my social life (or any kind of life, really) it's going to be fiction writing.

I did some reading in Santa Cruz last week. Mostly because I was on vacation from writing and there was no TV around. I enjoyed it. Now vacation is over and I'm back to writing and TeeVee.

I tried motivating more reading by vowing to read X number of books in 2007 and writing mini-reviews of them in my LJ. That worked fine until moving and job hunting interfered.

Now I'm looking for a way to get myself to read again. It's ridiculous, really. A pleasurable activity should motivate itself; and yet I can't seem to get myself to do it. I did it in early 2007 by trapping myself on the bus twice a day without a television or anything to write. Now, there's no bus. I thought of doing it by trapping myself on some exercise-machine thing without a remote control, but I'm considering buying a rowing machine, so that makes it tough to hold a book. You know the kind where your eye absorb words rather than having some Voice reading it to you?


I know what motivates me to do things I want to do but find it difficult to do. Accountability. Need to lose weight? Go to Weight Watchers meetings. Need to write a novel? Pay a writing coach Real Money to force you to report into her every week. That's what I need in order to read. So pathetic, I know.


( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 21st, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, I know what you mean. Same here, nerdy girl with glasses and no friends, poring over a book. Yep, that was my childhood. Then I went to college and got out and did stuff and got obsessed with some tv shows and...

What really hit me is when one of my friends responded to one of my memes asking something about the shows I watched; I realized she thought of me more as a tv watcher than a reader. And deep down I have this snobbery: tv=dumb, reading=smart. And I want to be smart.

That and I do like to read, at least when I find a good book. And I've been trying to read more, but my problem is that I start way more books than I have time to finish, and then I have a bunch of half-read books. And then I get distracted by a knitting project, or a new tv show, or both.
Jul. 21st, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
I'd like to blame it on an unhealthy need not to be seen as a nerd, but all my friends are nerds, so I have no such need.
(no subject) - chaos_by_design - Jul. 21st, 2009 02:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jul. 21st, 2009 02:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 21st, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
Want me to try the Mom Voice (tm)?

Or, if you're going for a rowing machine -- what about a book on tape (or CD, heh)? Your library probably has tons of them, and a lot of the new bestsellers are coming out concurrently with an audio version as well as print.
Jul. 21st, 2009 01:55 am (UTC)
As for books on tape, I sort of covered that with, "You know the kind where your eye absorb words rather than having some Voice reading it to you?"

The Mom Voice, on the other hand, might actually work.
(no subject) - ladystarlightsj - Jul. 21st, 2009 03:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jul. 21st, 2009 03:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ladystarlightsj - Jul. 21st, 2009 03:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jul. 21st, 2009 03:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 21st, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
You know how a few years ago I was all O_O about you not reading much anymore?

Well I've been having my own dry spell in the last year and a half too x_x it's kind of weird and frustrating. So now I sympathise. :(
Jul. 21st, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
It's really terrible and kind of embarrassing. I thought to myself the other day, "I wouldn't mind re-reading HP 6 and 7, or even the whole series." Then I thought of all the books I own I haven't read even once and cried.
Jul. 21st, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
luckily there are a lot of those accountability sites too
Jul. 21st, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
Really? Where?
(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Jul. 21st, 2009 03:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jul. 21st, 2009 03:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Jul. 21st, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jul. 21st, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Jul. 22nd, 2009 02:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 21st, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)
If you need motivation, I could promise to buy you a bag of MacIntosh's toffee for every book you read between now and when I come visit...
I have and always will be an obsessive reader. Right now I'm rereading a bunch of my Star Trek novels, and then I might just reread the Dresden series. It all depends on my mood as to what I read. I still have the latest Ann Perry novel on my table waiting for me to find the right time to read it, and I just realized I still haven't read that Dick Francis book I bought in the Manchester Airport last fall.
I reread one of my favourite feel good books just last week: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society...which I totally recommend for summer reading.
Jul. 21st, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
I just need you to graft some of that reading obsession onto me! Unfortunately, Mac toffee is going to not go over well when I weigh in at WW!

My biggest problem, I fear, is my obsession with other stuff. I write constantly. When I'm not writing, I'm working on fixing up my house. I see a light at the end of the tunnel for the house, but never the writing. I will somehow need to become reobsessed with reading, LOL
(no subject) - bhadrasvapna - Jul. 21st, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jul. 21st, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 21st, 2009 05:12 am (UTC)
Consider the reading to be part of the writing. It gives you a chance to explore someone else's imagination, bounce their ideas around in your head and see how you'd handle such-and-such an emotion, a situation or a character. You can read for the style, the storytelling, the plot or the characterization, and see what works for you and what doesn't.

Sometimes you can even learn what not to do from other books; I learned a LOT about the importance of active protagonists from Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, whose main character went from an active character who got into everything in the first book to a virtually inert character whose passivity was hidden by the fact that the things he should have been saying and doing were being said and done by others. (YMMV, obviously. Still, I'm sure there's at least one book that taught you what not to do in your own writing.)

And sometimes, you know, you just read for fun. Because reading IS fun, and you don't always have to be all serious about it. And when you read for fun, you're also learning what makes a story fun for you...which goes back to learning and writing again.

I think you need to stop approaching reading as if it's an unpleasant assignment that you HAVE to do, though. I think that's part of what's getting in your way, right there.
Jul. 21st, 2009 05:22 am (UTC)
I know the importance of reading to good writing, but that doesn't motivate me to do it, alas.

And besides, it makes it *work*, not pleasure.
(no subject) - bhadrasvapna - Jul. 21st, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jul. 21st, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 21st, 2009 06:42 am (UTC)
I can tell you how to spend more time reading: move to another country where the tv language is mostly not English! They also show shows randomly, so we never know where they are in the season. Perhaps they actually begin with ep 1, but we never get to see it. They also show movies randomly. And the web pages for the tv schedules are say rather unhelpful. And we have a still somewhat non-sleeping baby, so 1) we don't watch tv when she's awake 2) we're too tired to watch when she does go to bed

So, we read tons of books!
Jul. 21st, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you need a book club!
Jul. 21st, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
Only if they pick books I would read anyway....

(no subject) - bhadrasvapna - Jul. 21st, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jul. 21st, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )