More of the continuing series of advice to myself (and anyone else who cares to listen):
Wait. Hear me out.
Read something in a genre unrelated to what I’m working on.
This past month I’ve been finishing a fantasy manuscript, so my reading consists of reviews of books on history, politics, arts, biography — real people in the real world. Definitely not cheerful reading (the pessimist in me finds all my expectations about humankind’s future fulfilled).
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy reading these reviews and often track down the books themselves, but the seriousness of this reading makes me long to go back to my novel’s fantasy world, where I’m in control. Each time I stop writing for the day is an opportunity to never return to the manuscript, so reading that makes me want to finish that story is invaluable.
Also, when I read in a different genre, there’s no chance of suffering the anxiety of influence. It’s bad enough working in the same genre as Rowling, Le Guin, Cooper and others, but to have to create something they haven’t done yet? Is there anything they haven’t done yet? Reading nonfiction seems to clear my mind of these authors’ voices, allowing me to hear my own. I no longer have to try not to write like them; I can just tell my story.
So, on 01 November, as I start drafting a historical saga, my reading list will shift to comic novels: Augustus Carp, The Diary of a Nobody, Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures, and so on — watch for a future post about these. I’ve read all my book review issues, and now the optimist in me needs to feel better about humankind.
BTW, remember those secrets I hoped to find in X’s rooms? Well, funny story. I finished the chapter and there were no secrets. I looked, believe me, all over those rooms but couldn’t find anything revealing about X, so the chapter title has reverted to “X’s Rooms.” She must have hidden her secrets some other place.