I read a lot. I suppose most of us who write, or like to write, do the same.
Here’s a thought about that:
Not all reading material we pick up we end up enjoying.
Am I right?
I have come across quite a few blog posts in recent days on this topic. It preoccupies me, but not in the way you might expect. There are always more books you can get your hands on, more reading material. These days, fresh topics are literally within reach of the palm of your hand. A click away.
I think about reading in conjunction with writing. Often, reading something is what inspires me to write something.
But I want to dig a little deeper:
I remember when all the fuss about the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey occurred. I didn’t jump on that bandwagon immediately but I was a little curious. So I went to my library app and put the first book on hold.
I had a long line of wanna-be readers ahead of me.
I didn’t care. I had other stuff to read.
Then one day the book became available and I downloaded it and started to read it.
I finished it in about the same amount of time I would have finished any other book. Meaning, I read it normally like I do most books. For me to be so captivated by a book that I can’t put it down takes a special something, and this book…it didn’t have that special something.
(Example: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld had me so obsessed, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Then, it felt like I had a hangover for days after.)
The first book of the Fifty Shades was quite readable and interesting to me in a foreign sort of way. I say foreign because I live under a rock and I don’t know a lot about some of the topics this author addressed in her story.
Still, I learned a few things which kept me reading. The plot itself also kept me relatively interested, although it wasn’t the plot so much that kept my interest piqued. The plot simply propelled me forward, but not with the kind of edge of my seat urgency like Sisterland or something like that did.
At the end of the book however, I had to make a choice: do I want to read the next two books? Is the story interesting enough to want to know what happens next?
I put the other two books on hold in my app and went about my life.
I almost forgot about the story.
But of course the next book came due eventually and I downloaded it on my phone and then…
I didn’t start reading it.
If I remember correctly, it took me several days to actually start book two. When I did, I managed to enjoy it but to be quite honest, I was sort of meh about it.
I did finish book two. It was more of a curiosity factor about the red room than the development of the relationship between the protagonist and her new lover. The plot itself wasn’t what kept me interested. I assumed right from the start that certain things were going to transpire with the characters, and they did. I didn’t have to keep reading to validate my assumptions about the plot.
What kept me reading was my curiosity about the BDSM and related topics. I wanted to understand the relationship between pain and arousal and why this is a thing for some people. These topics were unfamiliar to me and the way the author managed to incorporate them into her story was intriguing to me from a writer’s perspective. So I kept reading because I wanted to know more about things I knew little, or nothing about.
Don’t ask me what I did with the third and final book…I remember starting it and feeling somewhat irritated by the protagonist character development, but I doubt I finished it. Honestly I don’t remember if I had or not. I simply lost interest.
Looking back at that experience now, as a writer and blogger, I wonder about this reading path I was on. How did this author, E.L. James, manage to lose her reader (me) partway through her story? Especially given the rounding success of her books world wide.
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it.
What do you think? Do you find you write better stories, or blog posts, after you read other stories or blog posts? Where do you take your inspiration from to write?