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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Books, Books, BOOKS!

Are you addicted? I know I am to books...as is Graham, although I'm not sure that he sees it as an addition. Films/DVDs/Videos on the other hand...

I haven't made any New Year's Resolutions this year, because truthfully, what's the point? We all know the pressure of them doesn't last five minutes let alone 12 months. What I am doing is making a few life changes...and one of them is about books and the reading of them.

I gave myself a bit of a hard time during the latter months of last year. I didn't understand why I couldn't read romance any more with a passion full of enjoyment. I was horrified with myself. How could I expect to write romance when I could no longer bear to read it?

Thankfully, Graham sorted me out with this awful dilemma that had begun tearing me apart. Listening to him it sounded so simple. We've known each other since 2003, married 2005 and he calmly pointed out that ever since he's known me I've devoured romance after romance. But, and here's the crucial bit, I hadn't only been reading them for pleasure  but with a learning mind...wanting to figure out how to write this wonderful genre that I love so much. So, unbeknown to me at the time, my reading had been primarily for RESEARCH rather than pure escapism.

Then came the hard bit to accept. I've read M&B for most of my life and subconsciously I know that I know what's required to write one. Therefore, I no longer need to drown myself in reading them to the same degree. That's when the mysterious mist lifted and I saw what'd happened.

I still need to read for pure pleasure and escapism but I also need to give my mind time off from working. Even though I didn't realise it at the time, that's why I dug out a few new-to-me authors from my bookshelves - Nicci French etc. The strange thing is that I'd never read them before because I thought they'd be a 'dark' read and I loved my happy-ever-afters - especially as 'real' life was often difficult.

The result of all this analysing is that I'm allowing myself a break from only reading the genre I'm writing. My attitude to reading has become far healthier for this decision. Now, when I come to reading my favourite romance authors I endeavour to read them as a READER, and not a writer. I'm also luxuriating in the return of reading other genres for escapism and I'm led by reading what I WANT as opposed to what I think I should be reading.

It's already become a win-win situation. I'm once again in love with books. I'm happier allowing my subconscious to do the hard graft for me and to luxuriate in each and every story I read, whatever the genre.

In fact by giving myself this permission it's made my writing feel much fresher and there's a lot less worry and fear about accidental plagiarism. I still LOVE romance, I still READ romance and I'm still WRITING romance, but the BEST thing of all is that I've opened myself up to all different genres too.

An addiction to books is something I've become proud of.