The Writer as a Reader

I like to curl up in a quiet corner and write a good book.

Carrie Olguin

 

Okay, I’m a writer now. I’ve published, well, self published, five books in nine months. I get money from people all over the world who are paying for the privilege of reading them. Someone in Brazil has been reading my books. I barely know where Brazil is, for heaven’s sake. And India too. Not a lot of people, or a lot of money, sure. But still . . . I’m a professional writer. I get paid to do it. What a  concept.

One impact this has had on me is how it’s affected me as a reader. I’ve been reading books my whole life. Mysteries. Science fiction. Fantasies. More recently Romances, and lesfic romances. Oh, and odd bits of erotica thrown in for spice. I did dabble briefly in reading stuff that people like Joyce and Mailer wrote, but they were either too esoteric or too pretentious for me. I liked the erotica better. But not Mailer’s erotica (see comment on pretentious above). I’m more interested in how people live their lives than in the meaning of life itself.

Now when I read my mind becomes preoccupied with the writing, not the story. I find myself thinking ‘I know where she’s going with this.’ Or I start parsing the paragraphs to understand what and how the author is making his/her points. I read dialog, not to find out what the characters are thinking and saying but to study how the author is making it understandable and how the writing expresses his/her ideas. Does anyone who hasn’t done it know how hard it is to write four-person dialogue? I sure didn’t, until I tried it. Making clear who in the hell is saying what; and why; and how? It’s even harder if the characters are all the same sex. ‘She said’ just doesn’t work if there are four ‘she’s’ talking.

When I get to the climax in a story I’m reading I’ll start looking back for the incidents that led up to that scene, wondering if the author put them in as he/she wrote, knowing what the climax would be, or went back later and added them once the denouement of the story became clear. I do that a lot. I hardly ever know how a story is going to end when I start it, so sometimes I have to twiddle with the middle to have it make sense when I stop writing.

And names. Where do other authors get all these names? One of the hardest parts of writing fiction for me is coming up with names for the characters. Sometimes I’ll stare at the keyboard flummoxed on what name to give someone. I’ve used up all my friends’ names – often in ways they would not approve of. Does my wife’s friend XXX know that I’ve given her name to a slut? I sure hope not. Family names are easy, I’ll just pick up a piece of junk mail and select a word at random. One of my favorite character’s last name was Avery because there was a package of Avery labels on my desk. But first names are a bitch. In lesfic it’s usual that one of the leads has a non-gender specific name like Sam (Samantha/Samuel) or maybe Willy (William/Wilhelmina). Not easy to come up with on the spur of the moment, at least for me. Hell, I had a hard time coming up with an example. And the age of the character means I have to take into consideration what names were used in what generations. Is there a millennial alive named Ethel? I think not.

Having said all of that I must confess – I love writing stories and having people read them. This Thanksgiving I’m going to say how thankful I am for Amazon Kindle. Without that I would just be an old book lover, not an old book writer.

 

Progress Report: I still haven’t made any headway on that half-written book I mentioned in my last blog. I’ve thrown out two non-consecutive chapters in the middle because I need to add another character, but haven’t figured out how to do it yet, or who she is. I have started a holiday novella which I hope to have completed and published by the end of November. It will be short, almost certainly less than 20k words. It’s an erotic sequel to “Kitty-Kat.” If I’ve used your name as one of the characters, I apologize ahead of time. Remember, it’s fiction. Really. I made it up.

 

 

 

 

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