Thursday, September 21, 2023

Read, Write, Revise, or Hatch a Story from James W. Ziskin

When you’re on vacation, do you take a break from reading crime fiction, never mind writing it? Do you read at all?

I mostly read when I’m driving. That is to say I like to listen to audiobooks when I’m in the car. It’s the only multitasking I’m able to do since I usually can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Listening while driving is the exception.

I also listen to audiobooks when I’m cooking, but only if I’m not following a recipe. In that case I need to pay attention to the words, and the audiobook goes in one ear and out the other.

When I’m on vacation, I don’t usually read. Trips are filled with things to do and places to see. Dinners, wine, museums, etc. Not much time or energy left for reading. I always have my iPad with me, so I can download and read at a moment’s notice if the urge strikes me. In fact, I find I prefer reading on an illuminated screen to a paper page. I know that’s sacrilege to many readers. But just wait till your eyesight starts to go and you’ll understand why. Blurriness is one thing, but much of the difficulty I have with reading is light. The brighter the better.

Back to this week’s question. While I may not read a lot on vacation, if it’s a staycation I’m probably writing something. I don’t think of writing as a job that I need to get away from. Sure, it’s hard and tiring, but not something I feel the need to put on hold to recharge my batteries. 

When I finish the first draft of a novel, however, I do want a break from the mad dash of getting to the end. For me, it’s an all-out sprint to get the first draft down on paper (screen). The process is intense and all-consuming, so at the end I need to stop creating for a while. And that’s when I revise. It’s not the same obsession as writing a first draft, and I enjoy it without feeling pressured to finish.

So, no, I don’t read a lot on vacation, but the writing process never stops. Even if I’m in between a book or short story, I still am engaged in thinking about some future project or other. If I’m not reading, writing, or revising, you can bet I’m hatching.




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