Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Even For a Writer-Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Reading?

Let me preface this post by saying, I am a certified bibliophile-lover of books, reading, and the process of making stories. Almost every waking minute I’m thinking about the books I want to read and the ones that I want to write. In my dreams, the books I love blur together into a giant collage of characters, scenes, and magical worlds. So, when my beloved Stephen King gives the following advice, who am I to disagree?
Courtesy of http://izquotes.com/quote/102677
Certainly not one of his dedicated constant readers, who marvels in the wonderment of his writer-ly glow.  But question him, I shall. In the paraphrased words of Socrates–  “Question everything, and then once you’ve questioned everything about your life, question the reason why you read so damn much!” Okay, maybe Socrates just meant to question all aspects of my life.

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my World

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my World

Yet, I feel compelled to bring up this subject because it has been bothering me for months. I love reading so much that if I go a day without reading, I feel like I’ve missed out on a part of my life like kissing a loved one or forgetting to pick a child up from school–it’s THAT important.

As a writer, one of the most important skills I need is to read and take away different tips or style from which I can improve my own work. At the same time, reading is so much more than simply finding out how to write well or form a good story. It’s about the passion I have whenever I find a book that truly speaks to my soul, one that makes me excited to wake up and read every day.

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock My World

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock My World

So, it shouldn’t be an issue that I read in almost all of my spare time, each time I sit down to eat, I have to read. There are times where I could spend hours lost in a well-conceived fantasy world and feel accomplished at how far I’ve gone, but does reading more often than writing help or is can reading too often be used as a way to procrastinate what you’re writing. Even now, I’m thinking about the next Game of Thrones book, the third installment of a childhood book series that I purchased months ago, or quickly buying the book for my next assignment.

All of these thoughts are easier than the revisions I just received from my mentor. Therefore, I pose the question: Is there a thing as too much reading?

Most people, including my inner self would say: No, you can never read too much, especially when it benefits your writing!

While this is incredibly true, I have to draw the line somewhere because I’ll spend the rest of my life making outlines and planning my beautiful ideas as I read other great works. It is high time I set a limit on myself. Since I have ample time once the school year is over, it’s time for me to crack down and say no to my pleasure reading. It’s one thing to read to learn and another to hide behind other authors to avoid my own work.

Please feel free to share your ideas on whether you think there is a limit to reading as a writing, especially if it allows you to procrastinate your own writing.

Now that I am on the topic of reading a lot, I must confess there are some hilarious quirks that us bookworms have. At a birthday party last weekend, I was making conversation with some new acquaintances and besides sharing our recently read list, we discussed how people approach us while reading. There is a very delicate way to talk to someone who is immersed in a book. Personally, I feel it is impossible to get my attention without enacting some type of weird primal rage while I’m reading. I read during my lunch at work, which sometimes means I’m reading at my little cubicle. I’ve only had interruptions a few times, but one of co-workers apparently received a very unhappy look when asking a work-related question on my “reading time”. As unintentional as the face may have been (because I didn’t see the horrified look I gave him), it goes to show how truly absorbed I can become in a book. Here to help put this behavior into perspective is another lovely photos from the Facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock My World, who has supplied almost every photo I have used in the blog today.

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

Now if we could mass produce this lovely sketch to all of the world I’m sure many readers would be less like to be interrupted and no longer turn into feral creatures caught in a corner. I may be over-dramatizing slightly on that last bit, but the meaning is the same. Sometimes, there are books so fantastic, so mind blowing that we forget where we are and why shouldn’t we?

At times, my life is both scary and boring. Why should I be brought back into the realities of my impending revisions, assignments, and Monday mornings before I’m ready to leave the next Kevin Hearne or Neil Gaiman book? I shouldn’t! If you see a wild bookworm tucked away, leave the poor creature be. Spread the world, save the wild bookworm from extinction by letting them read. They will eventually come around.

From Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world on facebook

From Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world on facebook

Another very present issue is finding a comfortable position to read in. I have found it is much harder to find this with a physical book than using Nook on my phone. With my phone, it isn’t as heavy and even the thinnest paper backs are heavy when you’re holding them up. Here is another diagram to explain what I mean.

It’s like a stressful, non-exercise yoga. Someone (mainly engineers and physicists) need to design a chair specifically for long-term reading. So many chairs would be purchased! And they should probably have a tea/coffee dispenser, too. Just to make sure the reader is always stocked. Feel free to take my idea as long as I get a chair free of charge once it’s invented.

from the facebook group fantasy and sci-fi rock my world

from the facebook group fantasy and sci-fi rock my world

It’s both difficult and thrilling to be a reader and lover of books. People today still associate book reading with  obligatory school assignments and other non-enjoyable things like learning or singing showtunes (all of which can be incredibly fulfilling if given the chance).  However, one thing remains clear. For those of us who caught the reading bug early on, we know the best kept secret of all.

For me, it’s an escape and a lesson. I can escape to a world I’ve never experienced, people I’ve never met, but more importantly escaping into the deepest parts of me. Books help us to learn about ourselves in a world where anonymity and fake identities rule. It is a chance to be the princess or the knight without having to worry about someone telling you it’s not your place in the world. You can be whoever or whatever you want inside your favorite book.

From the facebook page Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

From the facebook page Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

All in all, readers seem more able to take on the world because we’ve been so many more places. How can you compare seeing the Empire State building when you’ve been to Mordor, King’s Landing, Idris, Tír na nÓg, and share them with people you’ve never met. Reality is such a tiny place compared to the vastness of fiction. Although this post began as a reason to reign in my reading craze, it is always important to focus on the reason why books make me crazy. They are powerful items, bound in paper and magic, with one purpose: to take you to a place where your imagination runs free.

I want to take the time to thank my wonderful friend Denise Drespling, who inspired me to write about questioning myself as she questioned hers in her first blog post. You should check her out because she is clever and talented. Check out Writer’s Block: Is it all Just Crap?

I leave you now with many thoughts and one last hilarious picture. Happy reading and writing my loves!

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

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Advances in My Personal Book Collection (Verging on Bibliomaniac)

Thanks to my new job, I can now continue my quest to hoard books. I say hoarding because the thrill of purchasing tons of books will eventually consume my future house if I don’t prepare for it properly. At this point in my life  I probably have about 50-60 books acquired, which is not that bad by standards for writers. However, the amount of books that I have read out of that number is not as impressive. I have at least a dozen books that I have not read yet, and that frustrates me. My typical routine is that I start one book, find another that I also want/need to read, and then slowly work on the list of currently reading until I’m done with the books.

Over the years, I’ve been able to work through my reading list relatively quickly. At the same time, there are so many books out there that I don’t know if I’ll ever get to them all. Couple that with a full-time job/school and you have a recipe for an overwhelmed writer. I know that one of the most important parts of writing is constantly reading to learn vital skills. Sometimes, the reading part gets in the way of the writing because books are just so addictive. Other times, books make me want to stop reading just so I can write.

This love of books and writing has given me a future full of things to do. If I ever claim to be bored it will only be because I have forgotten to bring a book with me or I’m doing an activity that doesn’t allow me to write. Anyway, I’ve decided to share with you my recent book purchase to share some hopefully good books and get some opinions on them.

1. Devices and Desires  by P.D. James-It is a requirement for this practicum’s reading list, but it is so much more than that. My love of crime/murder mysteries is rooted deeply in my love of cliches. I foresee this book to be like greatly once I read it. Set in Norfolk, “Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, in Larsoken to settle an estate left him at the death of a relative, is drawn into the investigation of a serial killer, the Whistler” (Amazon).  I am thrilled to get this book started, but I will have to wait because I am saving it for my last critical essay. I am hoping my knowledge of crime novels will help me to make this the best paper of the practicum.

Even the cover makes me want to read it and feel the power of the Amazon women

2.The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman-I found this book after finishing my assignment with The Blackbird House. My re-connection with Hoffman instilled a desire to find more of her books, which led me to this one. A classic coming of age story following a young girl, who is destined to be the leader of the powerful Amazon warriors. Just the fact that it is about Amazon warriors was enough to make me buy it (getting it for $0.75 was even better). I am so excited for this book knowing the magical quality of Hoffman’s writing. I have always been obsessed with Greek mythology and like stories, so this will be right up my alley. It is only one of many Hoffman books I must now cross off my list.

 

The Mists of Avalon-so epic!

3. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley-I was suggested to read this book by my mentor, and in a spur of the moment I purchased it as well. When she first suggested the book I was intrigued by the subject of Arthurian legends. They are an integral aspect of all fantasy writing, so I was dedicated to reading it with such a strong suggestion. Lo and behold, I had already read the prequel to this book called, The Forest House. I read the book during my high school library escapades where I picked the library clean of awesome books.

Yet, I never remembered the title. So, going back I searched key words I remember and found the book. Then, the pieces of the puzzle began connecting. It is even more special for me to read this book knowing its connection to the prequel, which I adored. Bradley’s spin on the Arthurian legends comes from the p.o.v. the book is written. She wrote the story from the perspective of the under appreciated women of the tales. Morgan Le Fay, Gwenhwyfar, Viviane, Morgause, and Igraine all find their voice in this version of the classic fantasy.  I await the arrival of the book to get started on this epic adventure!

After I read the book, I will have to check out the tv series and A&E special on this creepy looking book!

4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman- This was another suggestion by one of my good friends from Carlow’s M.F.A. group, Colin O’Boyle, who definitely knows good fantasy/science fiction. This particular novel is focuses on Richard Mayhew, a young man who stumbles into the dark, mystical world of London Below. Without much more information than that I was hooked. I would have purchased all of his books, but I can only read so many at a time. So, hopefully this book will live up to the big name Gaiman has made for himself.

Overall, I believe my purchase has been a success. I managed to get the final book I needed for school and plenty of light reading in between. I also just finished Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card, and I am ready to move on to the Shadow Series to complete all books in the Enderverse. It seems that I have plenty of inspiration coming my way to develop my short story.

Please comment your opinions, reviews, and suggestions for other books by these authors or genres. I love hearing what people think of books before I read them.

Happy reading/writing!

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