Reading for pleasure – no, really

Almost everything I read about writing a book requires you to read in your genre.  Or just read, period.

So, wanting to be a writer, I set about it with a vengeance. But when I read, the result has been one of two things.  It can make me think – “Oh great, perhaps I could do this. Press on, get it finished!”

Or, it's making me think – “What’s the point? This is miles better than anything I could produce! I’ll never get it finished, I’ll never get published….” Etc., etc.

I’ve had to work hard to find something in my genre I liked (which makes me wonder if I’m writing the right book – but that’s for another post, when I get my head around it).  I've just finished a Mhairi McFarlane, and thought it clever and funny.  And there are lots of others. But I couldn’t get on with the plethora of light, summer reads featuring beaches, or cafes, or ice cream.  I think I’m probably showing my age, but they seem a bit…unreal to me.

Thinking about my story, I wonder if – despite being a love story – it’s a bit solid (see also ‘stodgy’) when compared against these airy creations. But then, there are so many different types of books, so many readers. Might there also be a reader (or two) for mine, solid as it is?

This is what happens when I read while writing. I see what people are writing (and reading). I see trends and themes (many of them co-incidental, probably). I read and believe I am better than, as good as, or not as skilled as other writers. I wonder if a love story really was what I should be writing. I have hope and despair. I am spurred on and tempted to give up.

And eventually, after worrying about all this I have reclaimed my reading to be the pleasure it was always meant to be. I read to know the story rather than an exercise in literary comparisons.