One of the things that I am learning as a newly-published author is how much trickier it becomes to balance reading and writing. And if that sounds strange, let me explain…
It goes without saying that writers must be avid readers. It’s how we came to want to write….right? I love books. I love reading and I have always made it a priority. It’s a given. But now that I have contracts to honour (lucky me – I’m certainly not complaining!) I find that I am having to shift both my thinking and my scheduling.
Previously I wrote fiction speculatively, alongside my journalism and other paid writing. It meant I set the timetable. If I wanted to put my MS aside and read something fresh instead, I could....and would. Now, of course, I am writing novels professionally and when I am up against an editing deadline, I find it difficult (and more than a little bit frustrating) to fit in quite as much reading as I would like.
It’s just an adjustment. I’m new to everything, after all. Finding my way.
For those who have yet to clinch a deal (do please keep going…and read previous blogs on how long I had to wait!) the “business end” of publishing a book involves an unbelievable number of re-reads. For example, I went through two rounds of development edits… and then a copy edit for my debut Recipes for Melissa. For each one, I obviously read and re-read the MS umpteen times to ensure I had re-stitched all the changes successfully.
I’m a pretty quick reader…but I still allow around four hours to go over my MS. So in the final weeks ahead of publication, I re-read my own book more times than I care to admit! ( I also re-read the final e-book conversion and the PDF of the print version as they were sent through. Over the top? Borderline OCD? I don’t think so. Copy editors are good but mistakes can still slip through and, for myself, I feel the buck stops with the author…so I wanted to try my very hardest to deliver as clean a version of my debut as possible.)
So instead of reading a dozen new books, I seemed to be reading my own over and over and over. Tired eyes? You betcha! I reached the point where I felt I could probably recite whole chunks.
I checked in with a couple of other authors to find this is not unusual at all. Some even said they never find time to read other work while editing. Fair enough. It’s the job, after all. So once my debut was out, I quickly turned to my “to-read” pile. How wonderful. To be reading other novels again. It was like devouring chocolate after a diet.
And then? The publisher is keen to have book two as quickly as possible! Perfectly understandable. So after finishing just a handful of delicious novels by others, I was right back into MS number two, tidying it up for submission.
It’s just gone into my editor and I learn her editorial notes should be back next week. So what am I doing?
I am reading, reading, reading, reading… as much as I possibly can before I am back in that editing cave.
So whatever you are reading or writing just now….enjoy. And do let me know on Twitter or on my Facebook author page how you manage to balance your own reading and writing. All tips gratefully received.
Teresa Driscoll - journalist, author, mother of two and lover of great coffee.