Could Being A Writer Ruin Me As A Reader?

Lately I’ve been struggling with something that bothers me more than I care to admit. It’s something that goes so deeply into the core of who I am, that the thought of changing it at all terrifies me. It’s my love of reading. I have always loved to read, from the day I learned how. I can’t remember a time in my life that books didn’t play such an important role that I often chose them over real people. That is, until about a year ago, when my writing really started to take off and I was presented with a little thing called deadlines. My reading has been woefully inadequate of late. But what do you do? I’ll tell you what I did. I started setting time aside for reading. Making goals that if reached, allowed me to read a book before trying to write something else, and that’s when the real terror set in.

Though I have always been a writer, I haven’t always dealt with editors. This is something new and unusual for me. And painful. Holy cats is it painful! This isn’t going to be a rant about my LOVE/HATE relationship with editors, but more a voicing of my concern over how that relationship has changed me as a reader. I have always been a very forgiving reader. A few typos might catch my eye, but I wasn’t one to reflect on how much passive voice a writer chose to use, or if their characters were unrealistic, cliche or every other thing editors like to say. I think most readers out there are the same. The only people who actually care about these things are editors, book reviewers and those assholes on Amazon that can’t just say whether they liked a book or not, but have to throw all kinds of high brow terminology into the review and act superior to every other reader on the planet. You know who you are. If you are reading this, I just want to tell you that you are a pretentious asshole and we see through you! Good Day, Sir!

Sorry about that, but that guy really torques my bisquick! (Yeah, I don’t know what it means either, but my friend Axel said it once and I liked it!) So here’s my problem. After spending the last year-year and a half with editors, I am beginning to lose my enjoyment of the reading process. Suddenly I find myself picking apart stories, noticing flaws in the pacing, passive voice and other things that I like to call “soft writing” when I find myself doing them. And you know what? It really scares me. A story has to be really great to keep me from noticing the errors. Am I becoming one of these people? I don’t want to. Is this just a phase for me? I guess only time will tell, but I hope so. Maybe I need to practice meditation, or yoga, or voodoo magic before I pick up a book. Anything to teach me how to keep my own inner editor from ripping apart the work of others. I want to love to read again. The alternative is too scary.

8 Responses to “Could Being A Writer Ruin Me As A Reader?”

  • First had this same problem with films, Caren. I was a film student for a while and had to learn all the techniques, methodologies, best practices, in short, “the rules”. Part of learning is watching, so we had to observe films from a more technical viewpoint. Took all the joy out of it, but too, it also made me appreciate the complexes and skill some of these film makers had. To this day, I’ll still watch a film from two perspectives; the film-buff and the film maker. This then crossed over into writing. But I dealt with that very early on. I tried to learn all the rules, the little tricks, used by writers, then I tried to forget them and just write. It’s impossible for any writer worth their salt not to pick up on lazy or bad writing. But to be honest, if the writer/author is making those mistakes, then I stop reading the book/story. Grammar, unless it’s really bad, doesn’t bother me as much as lazy writing or poor story telling. Like you said, that’s for editors. If I was GREAT at that job, I’d be an editor, and not a writer. Leave it to the proffessionals. (no doubt there’s a ton of typos in this)

    To be honest, I hardly read now. What little time I get away from work, or spending time with my family, I spend on writing. But that’s not to say I’ve stopped reading, I’m just more selective. Too, I can draw inspiration from many sources instead of books – music, films, even walking down the street. Probably a controversial statement coming from a writer, and I guess only time will tell if lowering my reading time will reflect on my stories/novels. But for the time being, I’m happy writing. In truth, I’ve added to the adage that a writer should write what they want to read, and perhaps, they should read only what they write, too.

    • C.W. LaSart:

      Thanks Craig! It really puts into perspective how being too close to the action, makes you a bit jaded towards any field. Man am I glad I’m not a porn star! 🙂

      • *slaps head* LMAO on that porn comment!!
        C.W., I encourage you to keep reading, and just enjoy it for the ride. Seeing writing that you would edit just means that you are growing as a writer and will not make the same mistakes in your own writing.

        -Jimmy

  • It’s not just you. Having to go through major edits and rewrites makes one very aware of the flaws of other writers. This is especially frustrating when they are best selling authors because you know that editors probably don’t even look at their stuff anymore, yet we’re getting hacked to bits. It is also difficult when peers approach you and ask for an honest opinion on their work. You want to be nice, but at the same time you aren’t doing them any favors by blowing smoke up their butt.

    Maybe like suspension of disbelief, as writers we need to suspend a little of our expectations technically, as well. I dunno’. Fortunately, I’m still working through a backlog of books that are by established authors whom I trust won’t do me wrong.

    Oh, and remember in your examination of passive voice that it can be used to show a weak character. Not saying all writers do this on purpose, but some good writers will.

    Good luck with finding something that won’t disappoint you 🙂

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    • C.W. LaSart:

      Thanks for the comment Paul. You made some great points. I am just hoping to learn to tune out that inner editor when reading, in the same way that I do when initially writing. We’ll see if it works!

  • Hazards of the profession, I’m afraid; it’s highly unlikely, once you’ve activated your inner editor, that you’ll be able to entirely switch it off again. I’m told that other creative professionals (film makers, artists, musicians, chefs) suffer from similar maladies.
    Looking at the positive side, if you’re a writer and you’re NOT noticing the little mistakes that other writers make, then you’re probably not a very good writer.
    (BTW, I have a horrible, sinking feeling that I might be one of those pretentious assholes who writes unneccessarily detailed Amazon reviews…*hangs head in shame*)

    • C.W. LaSart:

      Oh Tracie! If you break every asshole rule I can come up with, you STILL wouldn’t be an asshole 😉 Another one of my hypocritical rules. I get to decide who is or isn’t an asshole!

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