Tip of the Day: Don't let your kids pick out all the Jelly Belly flavors. They'll pick out fizzy soda flavors instead of Cinnamon or Caffe Latte. That's just not right.
As a reader, I am a writer's nightmare.
Once I put down a book, I very well might not pick it up again. If your main character reaches a point of any peace or rest and I can imagine her living happily ever after from then on, I'm not picking it up again. If you change viewpoint characters too often, I'm not picking it up again. If your main character overcomes obstacles too easily, grr, I'm really not picking it up again. Like if your main character changes everyone's beliefs by making a speech, or slips past the bad guys by crawling under a desk, as happened in the last two books I didn't finish reading.
That's definitely the difference between how I read now and how I read as a teenager. I used to finish everything I read. Now ... forget it. Sometimes I don't finish books that I was really enjoying. For example, I've read about 2/3 of Octavian Nothing. Love it. I think M.T. Anderson is a genius. Yet I haven't finished the book. It's been sitting unopened on my bedside table for weeks. It's like I got my full quota of enjoyment out of it or something.
The problem is that I'm not a disciplined reader. If I love a book, I can't put it down. As a result, I don't read before I go to sleep, because I've spent too many sleepless nights reading and I've learned not to read before bed. I can't read in a car, either--motion sickness. I don't have a set time of the day or week to read! I'm such a slacker! I read here and there, I don't finish half of what I start, and I never read all the books I mean to. What kind of writer am I?
On the other hand, I read to my 9-year-old for half an hour a night. That's pretty disciplined, and we read above her reading level. Also, I'm usually doing critiques for two or three people a week. And my critique partners are writing fantastic, interesting stuff that I want to finish.
But does that justify my sloppy, irregular reading habits when there isn't someone else expecting me to read? If I decided I "should" read a certain amount each week, would it suck some of the enjoyment out of reading? (This is all part of the bigger question: how do I fit everything into my life I want to do? But I'll start small.)
Obviously, this is preying on my mind. I want to painlessly reform my reading habits. Can you all tell me what works for you?
-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer