Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can a Writer Read for Pleasure Only?

One of the biggest hazards of becoming a writer for me is the inability to just enjoy a story. I'm constantly analysing and accessing the craft involved in creating the novels I read.

So, my question is, are there any particular novels that while reading you've noticed you had minimal writer's intrusion happening? Stories that engrossed your imagination so much that the art and craft analysis would need to wait for a second read through?

Surrendering to Him,



KLo said...

That's a really good point : )

In addition to being a writer, my life as a reader is further exacerbated by my day job of teaching ninth graders to analyze literature. Sometimes it's very hard to just let go and read a book without noting symbolism, themes, foreshadowing, conflict, and every other literary element you can imagine.

I have always loved to re-read books. Out of all the books that I've read (and there are millions--I'm a reading fool), there are very few that I've only read once. What that does for me is allow me to balance the pleasure of a great story with the literary analysis going on ... with every separate reading, I'll find myself focusing on different things.

I don't know if that really addresses your question, but I just wanted you to know that you're not alone in feeling the way you do : )

Jody Hedlund said...

I have a really hard time reading for pure pleasure. Such is the life of a writer, I guess! The more we learn about the craft, the harder it is not to notice the mistakes in others. Once I finish my novel and start on my stack of books to read, I'm going to try really hard, though, to turn off my editor!

Jessica said...

For the first year or so of being a writer I couldn't read for pleasure. Now I think I've turned the internal editor off for the most part, and let me tell you, it's such a relief!

Cindy said...

It is difficult for me to read for pleasure, especially books that aren't in my genre. I always find myself thinking it would appeal to the reader more if the writer would do this or that.

As far as books in my genre, however, I actually find it easier. I'll find a book that is so engaging or has such great characters and think, yes! this is going to motivate me to write better. And, the best benefit is that I actually enjoyed the story.

Jeannie Campbell said...

i'm the opposite of cindy, i believe. when i'm reading in my genre, i see more errors or mistakes or something i just wouldn't have done. but outside of my genre, not so much. like i'd never write a historical/regency...and i LOVE to read them. i often just lose myself in the time period. maybe the one exception to that is a well-written chicklit book (and there are several within the CBA). i like to write 1st when i find one of these books, life is really good for the whole day it will take me to finish it. :)

Debra E Marvin said...

I have noticed that if I can get past the first chapters I have a good chance of just getting into the story. Sometimes I give up, sometimes I finish and realize I put the editor aside and enjoyed.

However, I can totally zone out in even a predictable movie. And sometimes I really need to space out and rest the brain cells . . . know what I mean?

Wendy said...

Peace Like A River did this for me. I was swept up and while there was so much to learn from how Leif Enger manipulated the craft of writing...the story did what it was supposed to and I was lost in it.

~ Wendy

Eileen Astels Watson said...

It seems we have a mix of responses here. We are all unique!!

Personally, I'm finding it easier these days to get swept up in an exceptionally good STORY. That's the key, having a story that trumps all. But I also think it has a little to do with my growing ability to tune out the editor in me when I so desire.

Like Jessica, I guess, I'm getting better at enjoying a good read. Although if there is a lot of telling or mass amounts of introspection, then the editor does seep out on me, even in those trump story worlds. But I soooooo appreciate a story that trumps all. Some times even a writer just needs to enjoy someone elses created fictional world to the max. We all need a break from reality now and then.

Jeannie Campbell said...

oh, i meant to tell you that i bought and downloaded a copy of david nevue's Big Snow in Salzburg. that song is so haunting to me! i had to get it to play it for myself. i'm so glad you introduced me to him, b/c i really enjoy his music!

Katie said...

My internal editor goes away only when a story sweeps me off my feet. Francine Rivers has a knack for doing this. :)

T. Anne said...

I think I've lost the fine art of reading for pleasure. I read with a writer's heart always keeping that third eye open to new concepts and idea's.