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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two-Brained Writer

I often wish I was a cow. It's not only that I look good in black and white (but I do), it's also because they have two stomachs. TWO STOMACHS. Just think about the possibilities! The damage you can do to an all you can eat buffet. The baked goods that could be made and consumed. If I had to peg myself as one of the kids in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (not Charlie, that's cheating) I guess I'd be Augustus Gloop (with manners, I hope), but less spherical.

Which, in an extremely convoluted way, brings me to having TWO BRAINS. I wish I had two of those. I wish I had a writer brain and a reader brain. You hear about putting on your drafting hat, your editing hat - but you don't have a reader hat, do you? I don't. And that's why I wish I had a Reader Brain. Now that I write, I can't turn off the writer part of my brain. I see patterns. When a character is introduced, I'm asking myself - is he a catalyst for the inciting event? Or, "The MC has mentioned her college sweetheart twice now. Dollars to donuts, he's going to appear in a few chapters and it will be TROUBLE. I'm more sensitive to bad writing, too. Bad writing can stop me reading what is essentially an interesting story. I'm also more sensitive to good writing - I started reading WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead (which is awesome so far) and it's depressing me because I can't just enjoy the story, I have to beat myself up with how gooood it is. I can't help but compare it to my own work. Guess who's work is seen in a more favorable light by my inner editor. Exactly.

If there were only a switch I could flip in my brain that would allow me to read a book like the good Lord (insert other deity/belief system here) intended - to get completely immersed in the story, so that I don't even feel like I'm reading words - just seeing pictures. I really miss that.

Do you have trouble leaving your writer brain at the door when you read for pleasure? Can a writer even read for pleasure anymore?

Oh! My friend Bob Shea (who my youngest daughter calls Giant Shea) posted a video of his upcoming book, DELICIOUS MYSTERY. It comes out in January 2014 on Hyperion. Seriously, I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a picture book.


9 comments:

  1. That's an interesting dilemma. I never compare my own writing to others when I read. I would be curious to know if you also compare yourself subconsciously to movies or to television series you might enjoy. Like you see something and think, "I wish I'd written this." Then at least we would know that what you are feeling is not solely limited to books.

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    1. michael, you stopped me in my tracks. You NEVER compare your own writing to others when you read? HOW DO YOU DO IT? I can't NOT compare. Interesting question though, about other writing forms. I do have similar problems while watching tv shows and movies - in the sense of seeing patterns and predictability. But I DON'T compare my writing to the writing in other formats- and I don't kick myself over it either. What's that about? If I had a therapist, I'd ask her....

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  2. So, I'm scanning my blog role, reading the first few lines of posts, and I see this: I often wish I was a cow. After I stopped crying/laughing (don't know why I found it so funny, but I did, and it was a great laugh you gave me), I read the rest.

    I SO have this problem. It's especially bad with mysteries. I know who did it the first time the writer introduces the murderer/doppelganger/what-have-you.

    WHEN YOU REACH ME is insane good, you're right. My inner editor reminds me of all my literary shortcomings when I read THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE.

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  3. Daisy, glad I gave you a chuckle ;) And I'm LOVING WHEN YOU REACH ME. I'll add THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE to my TBR pile. Have you read EVERY DAY? Also awesome.

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  4. I have lost the ability to read certain books. Bad writing turns me off, and I don't know if it always did when I was younger. I can recall reading certain books and enjoying the story, but when I look at those same books now I would call them, um, junk.

    I definitely read with a much more critical eye, always deconstructing the story to figure out how it was put together. But a really great author can make me forget and still sweep me off my feet. Takes some really pretty prose and a smart story to do it, though. :)

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  5. I agree that as I've learned to write, my reading pleasure has gone down. But now when I find a book I really love, I can tell you exactly why instead of just saying "it was good." I guess that's a fair swap. :)

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  6. that's a really good point - and I wouldn't give up knowledge for any price. I guess I mourn - just a little - the feeling of it being magic. When you know how the 'trick' is done, you admire the craftsmanship, but you know it's not some kind of miracle, but all kinds of hard work!

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  7. Depends on the book. If it's really good, I don't notice the writing. ^_^

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