Sunday, May 2, 2010

Not Enough Hours in the Day

Gabriella Herkert

Catnapped and Doggone

How has being published changed my reading habits? Well, I write more and read less and sometimes I feel like I’m missing out. Some of that is because deadlines need to be met and I have less time to spend cuddling the dog and losing myself into the pages (yeah, I haven’t broken down to buy that eBook or Kindle yet) of a great read. But a lot more of it is because there is so much more I want to read. Being published, or even attending the conferences or other writer events, introduced me to a lot of fascinating people I am then DYING to read. I go home from these with enough new books to threaten the safety specs of Boeing’s biggest airplane. I can’t wait to get home and spend days in my pajamas, drinking tea and seeing how the funny panelist, the intense graphic novelist, the not quite right bar guy see the world. How they translate it into writing. Believe me when I tell you meeting an author and then reading their work is far more revelatory than any speed dating experience. It’s intimate in a way that’s positive naughty. Who doesn’t love that?

The readers of my work have affected what I read as well. If someone is going to take the time to send me an email telling me they liked my work and mention that I remind them of a favorite author they read as a kid, I’m going to go down to Seattle Mystery and ask my friends there to chase that book up for me. Or if that’s not available, I’ll attempt to describe the idea of the book and ask them for a recommendation. I never did this before I was published. I suppose some of it is because I feel like an old friend there. A bookophile Norm at Cheers getting his beer served before his butt hits the stool. But now that I do know them, and they me, I don’t even blink when Fran tells me that I simply have to read Sex and Bacon. I pull out my credit card and take my copy.
Now that I’m published, I’m also looking for the next story. This has pushed me beyond my comfort zone at the library. I read a lot more non-fiction. Right now, I’m reading The Art of the Steal. It’s about Christie’s and Sotheby’s art auction houses. The book is true but the story I’m working on is fiction. Knowing that there will be art afficianados in my audience checking up on my facts, and ferreting out believability in the characters and the “feel” of an art mystery, has me digging deeper in my reading list. I’m not looking for dry tome of facts and figures, but seeking out the experience of a well-written book so that I can offer the same full service to my wonderful readers. But to do that I need to read great fiction, engaging non-fiction, old favorites and new finds. Now if only there were enough hours in the day.

Thanks for reading, not just me, but every author who appeals to you.



Michael Wiley said...

I'm interested in your increase in nonfiction reading, Gabi. Yes, that's another way that reading has changed: everything is a potential source. Reading the crime blotter in the newspaper used to be a guilty pleasure. Now it's a work responsibility.

Great post.

Meredith Cole said...

I regret not being able to read more, too, Gabi. Reading has always been one of biggest hobbies (and is certainly what inspired me to become a writer). Just back from Malice with a HUGE bag of books, and I'm so sad I won't get to them all.

Joshua Corin said...

I loved The Art of the Steal! I actually find myself reading more and more nonfiction these days too.

I remember when I was a kid (i.e. during college), I went through a phase where I REFUSED to read any nonfiction.

My grades suffered a bit.

Gabi said...

I miss the Monday morning police blotter from my small home town. Saturday night, local resident so and so was arrested after a bovine displacement incident on the Johnson farm. He was charged with disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. We would all pretend to be surprised.

Gabi said...

You were at Malice? I can't believe I never ran into you. I'm bummed I didn't get to finally meet you in person. I, too, came back with enough books to break the Hulk's back. Think anyone will miss me if I disappear for a month?

Gabi said...

I'm loving it, too. And a no non-fiction policy during college would have been a little tricky to pull off. You crack me up.

Jen Forbus said...

Oh Gabi, I know just how you feel. Now when I go to events and conferences I end up with a list of authors I want to read. I correspond with others online through emails, Twitter or Facebook and add more authors to the list. And then I receive gads of books from publishers, read the book jackets and want to read them all! However, my want-to-read pile is taller than me. I'm trying to figure out how to dump the day job and be able to read all day long. Anyone know a free sugar daddy who can support me and my reading obsession? ;-)

Gabi said...

The world needs more patrons for reading artistes like us.

Shane Gericke said...

Remember those Evelyn Wood speed-reading courses? Do they still have those? Did they work? Might be one way to double or triple our reading capacity. Then again, I think you get speed by skipping words in that system. That would suck in fiction.

Gabi said...

That Evelyn Wood thing would be like hiring a taster to describe dessert to you. You might get a feel for it but you'd still starve to death. Not to mention being denied chocolate anything makes me snarky.