Excessive Reading: Inspiration or Crack?

The answer is both.

I realized today that it’s been ten days since my last post.  Bad blogger!  This is due to several factors, including the tail end of that antisocial apathy episode I mentioned last time and working on the dance company newsletter…but the real reason is that I’ve been rather distracted the last couple of weeks by vampires, werewolves, and a preternatural on the one hand and wizards, sorcerers, a nameless princess, and winged horses on the other.

A.K.A., I’ve been immersed in reading a series of books and writing one of my own.

I am currently reading/addicted to Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series.  I found it browsing at a slightly over-priced used bookstore, read the first few pages of the first one, and immediately went home, went to work the next workday and requested it from the college library.  I have become a highly recognizable figure at the library at work, if for no other reason than I am in there at least once every other week.  I appear to have good taste in books, since when I take them back or pick up the next book in a series, several of the librarians will ask me if it’s any good or sometimes just take the fact that I read it as reason enough to check it out themselves.  I also read like the wind.  Even with a mostly-full night of sleep, I can read a 300+ page book in a day.  I read Bridget Jones’s Diary in about six hours.  It’s not that I speed read; I’m not one of those that can scan an entire page in like three seconds and remember everything it said.  I’ve just been honing this particular skill since I was about four years old, so I can get on at a good clip.  If I have a book (fiction or narrative nonfiction; regular nonfiction always takes me longer) out from the library for more than a week, I’ve either got way too much going on in my life or it just wasn’t good enough to hold my attention.

So when I got Soulless, the first in the Alexia Tarabotti/Parasol Protectorate series, it was devoured in my usual fashion.  It’s simultaneously ridiculous, witty, and sexy, with the fun steam-punk backdrop of a Victorian London where supernatural creatures have been fully integrated into society.  The librarian that most commonly agrees with my taste in literature read the back when I turned it in, took it home and read the first chapter, and then arched an eyebrow at me and told me, “It’s…different.”  I told her to keep reading.  Paranormal romance is not my usual taste, but this one is delightful.

The only thing that really keeps me from becoming a completely antisocial constantly-reading shut-in is the fact that it takes several days for requested books to come in at the library (we have several campuses, and often the books have to ship from another location).  So I finish Soulless and request the next one, Changeless.  I get it last Thursday, and finish it on my couch Friday afternoon in the required chill-time following my allergy shots.


So most of the weekend, aside from catching up a bit on Dr. Who (does anyone besides me find that the new no-multi-part-storylines thing makes all the episodes in season 7 seem horrifically fast? I didn’t even have time to get teary at the end of The Angels Take Manhattan, for crying out loud! But I digress), was spent jonesing for the next book in the series like some kind of literary crack whore.  I probably checked my library account online ten times between Monday morning and 11:45am on Tuesday when AT LAST it showed that Blameless was ready for pickup.  I had finished said third book in the series by 12:30pm yesterday.  This one ended much more satisfactorily (you are forgiven, Ms. Carriger), so now I’m only checking my account once or twice (or maybe thrice) a day waiting for the next one to come in.

The good news is that all this excitement about reading—and needing something to occupy my thoughts in between books—has reawakened my muse as far as creative writing is concerned (my dance muse has been pretty busy lately, but my writing muse has been a bit MIA of late).  Though I will admit I’m not working on the book I was working on the last time I said I was working on something (it’s the second in a modern supernatural fantasy/paranormal romance series, the first of which I still have not received much of any feedback from the friends who asked to read it; I was getting a bit discouraged and self-critical as a result).  (Damn, I’m using a lot of parentheses today; sorry about that.)  This is a more traditional fantasy I started last November, and I have had an on-again-off-again relationship with it ever since.  It’s full of magic, wizards, sorcerers, spies, and fights and stuff, with my usual odd spin on things.  I hadn’t really touched it all summer, and then after looking through my files and reading what I’d done so far over the weekend, I’ve added a chapter and a half (about 4,500 words) (there I go with parentheses again) in the last three or four days.  Not my best record, but not bad considering we’ve been busier at work than usual and I’m taking dance classes and/or rehearsing about six days a week.

The chapter I added this week features a horse, under the effects of a Pegasus potion, sprouting wings and flying into the bad queen’s (there’s always a bad queen; it’s requisite) chambers through her open terrace door.  Amidst all the crashing and chaos, the queen’s personal sorcerer (who is technically a bad guy, but he means well in his own twisted way) (last set of parentheses, I swear) has to fall back on what little wizardry skill he has to get the spooked flying horse out of her room, all the while dealing with his chipper eight-year-old apprentice who helped him make the Pegasus potion in the first place.

I have not had that much fun writing a chapter in a long time.  And with 45,000 words so far, I’ve still got a big fight between the sorcerer and the good-guy’s-side wizard, lots of magical shenanigans, and a budding love story to look forward to–just for the first installment.  To tell the whole tale that’s been floating around in my head for the last nine months, I’m thinking it will take at least two or three books.

So if you need me, I’ll be writing.

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One Response to Excessive Reading: Inspiration or Crack?

  1. Writing mode is a good place to be. And I’ll have to check out the Parasol series, it sounds great.

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