As an avid reader, I like to have at least one book on the go at a time. I just finished Angela’s Ashes last night, and hope to start ‘Tis today. I’ve read them both before, but I often re-read things so that I can experience, once again, the specific feelings that book left me with the first time.
Since I have been reading this last week, I haven’t been writing much. I have focused on editing some of the stories that I am preparing to submit to publishers. This is because, when I read, I find that it influences my own writing in a negative way. No matter what the topic, the author’s voice will appear magically on my document and drift through the pages until it sounds like I am writing another version of an already published story.
Therefore, I have to make sure that when I am writing, I am not reading anything. It’s hard for me, because reading is a part of my life both as an obsession and a job. But, for me, it is very hard to let go of a book that I have enjoyed, and I constantly think about it for a time after I have finished it.
The same goes with editing, but it’s a little less harsh. When I am editing something that is non-fiction, or short, I can read whatever I want to. When I have to edit fiction, that’s where it starts to get more difficult. You would never think that editing can be whimsical and light, but it can. Different genres, and different authors, have different tones. They use different words. They have various styles, tastes, and use unique metaphors and similes. It’s hard to edit something without wanting to change it, and I have to be wary of whatever is influencing me at the time.
It’s not about being unable to separate myself from fiction and reality, it’s more like what I read changes my brain for a short time, until I give it some time and let my mind cool. That’s why, when I am reading, I can edit my own stories. ‘Tis is almost the complete opposite of my own work—it sits quietly in the back of my mind while I edit my own content.
When I am writing, I need to make sure that I don’t read. If I decide to read, I have to give writing a short break. For me, the two don’t go hand in hand.
I’m curious to know if they do for you. Do you read and write at the same time? Are you ever influenced by what you are reading, or vice-versa?