The lovely Kim Wright has received many accolades for her debut novel and now I'm please to announce it's out in paperback.... I invited Kim back to the blog for a guest post... and she wrote an honest eye-opening account of how writers really read....
How Writers Read
Recently someone asked me if the publication of my first novel, Love in Mid Air, changed how I read. It’s an interesting question. Because the long process of putting a novel together, taking it apart and putting it together again and again, does tend to make one hyper-aware of how stories are constructed and the many choices an author makes along the way.
In a way this knowledge does spoil – well, I shouldn’t really say that. Knowing how writers put together stories doesn’t exactly spoil your experience of reading, but it changes it. I ballroom dance as a hobby and recently I was watching a young girl in my studio proudly model her new ballgown, which had been purchased from a taller girl and altered to fit her. She looked magical as she twirled and glided in a sea of blue chiffon. But the seamstress, standing beside me and watching too, kept muttering about how a certain seam puckered or wondering if the hem was too deep. Sometimes when you understand the construction of something too well, you can’t stop seeing that construction and a bit of the magic does get lost.
Like, for example, last year I was at my mom’s beach house and in the back bedroom is a big bookcase crammed with books my mother’s friends have brought to the beach in summers past, read, and then left for future visitors to enjoy. I grabbed a paperback at random – apparently a favorite, judging by its humidity-swollen pages, broken spine, and sunscreen-smeared cover – and carried it out to the sand with my beach chair.
It was the lightest of all light reading, but for some reason, the book bugged me. I felt that I could see every decision the writer made along the way, just as the seamstress could see the faulty stitching on the ballgown. The foreshadowing was so heavy that when I finally flipped to the predictable ending I was so irritated that I walked to the edge of the ocean and flung the book in. I still don’t know why I did it. Ordinarily, I’d have too much respect for both books and marine ecology, but I was just coming off a long stint of revision and it irked me to come across a writer who had – at least in my opinion – taken the easy way out.
As I turned back to my chair I saw my mother and all of her friends sitting under their beach umbrella, mouths gaping. All I could think to say was “I REALLY hated the way she ended that book.”
But it can work the other way too, that knowing more about writing can elevate your appreciation for a book that’s been well crafted, and taking my own hits in the publication process has definitely increased my respect for anyone who survives it. I was never a harsh reviewer, but now I can hardly bring myself to publically critique another writer. Whether their book was my personal cup of tea or not, I know how hard they worked to write it, and to get it published.
So what’s the overall change in my reading since I’ve published? While on one level I enjoy books a little less, I now bow more to the effort each one required from its author. Which is why, even if a copy is slowly drifting out to sea, I send it off with a little prayer of “God Bless.”
Here's Kim's website: http://loveinmidair.com
And a link to purchase Kim's delightful book http://www.amazon.com/Love-Mid-Air-Kim-Wright/dp/0446540439/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310593978&sr=8-1