It's because my reading schedule is willy-nilly. That's it. That's the big, hairy reason. And thus, I have the utmost admiration for people who read, read, read and then write a timely review before or while reading the next book. I bow to their ability. It's a talent, even. And I do not have it.
Plus, I'm a selfish reader.
For example, I'm reading and loving The Paris Wife. It's a gorgeous book but I've been reading it for a very, very long time. Is this a reflection on the book? Nope. It's so rich, so decadent that I can't consume very much at once.
When I read before bed, I like to escape the day so mysteries and thrillers are my go to books. (I've been gobbling up Jen Blood's Erin Solomon mysteries - SO GOOD!) This need of mine has grown since my hubby doesn't love Criminal Minds like I do. I've gotta get my fix, thus thrillers leap frog everything else.
However, there's another reason I'm plodding through like a donkey on pot. It's a foolish but true obstacle: The Paris Wife makes me feel badly. Each artfully cast sentence sends me to the chalkboard in a dunce cap to scrawl, I am a crap writer. This is not a healthy attitude when working on your second novel and promoting your first.
Comparison may be useless but closing in on midnight, when I'm hunkered down with such beauty, I can't help asking, who's the fairest of them all? And the answer comes from the grimmest place.
So in order to write my own contribution to the vast literary library, I've been avoiding this book.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a writer's forum. After a good weekend with my new manuscript, I picked up Paula McLain's work of art.
It no longer preened above me. No, it called to me and said, "notice what I did there?" And I had. It was an exceptional example of showing not telling. The description was blunt and even commonplace, but the word choices were so clear, so sharp that the moment was infused with emotion. I wasn't reading about Hadley. I was listening to her. Excerpt from after her father's suicide:
The carpets had been cleaned but not replaced, the revolver had been emptied and polished and placed back in his desk....
This blase treatment speaks volumes about how suicide was embarrassing and how life not only resumed quickly, it did so after polishing and returning the weapon.
My eyes bugged out as the notion of clean sentences came sharply into focus. This is how it's done! So I'm ready to tighten my style, my voice up like a drum. Day-um!
As it turns out, The Paris Wife is also a wonderful example of writing a character's intimate pain. Combined with Griffin and Sabine for structural possibilities, my second release is taking me on a journey. It's proving distinctive from my first novel, but in the same family because there will be music. Oh yes, there will be music. But it won't play the same role. Curious? Me, too.
And the most daring thing I considered last night? Writing in first person. Because that's a scary challenge for me.... Ummmm, in a novel, that is.