Tuesday, May 10, 2016

To Read or Not To Read...

When you are writing do you read other mysteries, or are you afraid it will affect your own voice?
I do read other mysteries, and I'm not at all afraid that will affect my voice. I'm not even sure what my voice is. I'm not even sure it's me writing, in fact. Sometimes a really great line will appear (IMHO) and I wonder how it got there.

Other times I emerge from that zoned out writing place with nothing accomplished, and have to play Mahjong because I feel so blue-funked.
Sometimes Mahjong is necessary. You just need to win at something for a while, even if it's clearing a board of tiles and getting little sparkly WINNING medals or coins or whatever cascading down the screen.

The more virtuous thing to do in that scenario is to go for a brisk walk, then reroute the synapses by listening to an Eleanor Wachtel podcast - these can be done together in fact -- or engage in other horizon-expanding endeavours.
But sometimes virtuous doesn't happen. Then a happy medium is don't go for that walk, but make a cup of tea and read an enjoyable mystery from the growing to-be-read pile at your side.

For inspiration, I like to read a work that I feel is comparable to my own on some level. That can send my blue-funked brain a confirmation signal that yes, it's all worthwhile, you've just got to keep improving. It may also provide a competitive spur.
So to me, reading does not interfere with writing, or meddle with my own words. Like with most experiences, it seems the more the merrier.

Speaking of merry, I've just come home from a three-week blitz of writerly events on BC's Lower Mainland. I got to announce the Arthur Ellis Unhanged shortlist, and imagine that, I personally knew two on the list and one as a Facebook friend! That was SO delightful. I went to Noir in the Bar at the Shebeen (which means "speakeasy") in Gastown, and heard eight darkly fab writers read excerpts. I attended a forensic talk that was gruesome but oddly uplifting, probably because the speaker was so passionate and compassionate. I sold out at an impromptu book signing event at Chapters (yes they only had one book on stock but it DID sell). I attended the three-day Creative Ink Festival at the Delta Hotel in Burnaby (posh!!) --  an excellent experience that now in retrospect seems a bit like a dream -- at which I was on the panel discussing imposter syndrome, something we've all been hearing so much of lately. Plus I met up with old friends and made a bunch of new ones. AND I completely circumnavigated Burnaby Lake, on foot.
One result of all of the above is that I have several exciting new mystery novels added to my to-be-read pile, having met so many other writers in my travels. There's just no end to the learning ...!

Finally, on Sunday -- which was Mother's Day -- I got to have BBQ dinner with my son and friend, which was the perfect finale to a perfect trip.


Alan Orloff said...

Sounds like you've been very busy! Don't forget to carve out time to do some actual writing!

Art Taylor said...

A nice post here--and I'm impressed by your fun weekend! Sounds like a great time overall, surrounded by some fine writers, fine writing.

Susan C Shea said...

That's the kind of fun time that pulls me away from the daily writing discipline all too easily. I hope you have more fortitude than I do diving back in!