Reading as Research

Listening to: The Starting Line, “Direction”

First off, thanks to everyone for the big congrats and everything. It’s been a heck of a week…still looking around myself in pure amazement from time to time.

So I just finished, around 2:30 a.m., Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments Series. I finished Book II on the way to the in-laws on Wednesday, and Thursday morning I made The Husband take me to a bookstore to get Book III.

Okay, I was gonna be laying by the pool all day, I needed something to read. Never mind that my mother-in-law has like a living room full of books.

Plus, you know, I could potentially be writing sequels/a trilogy/more than one book in a world before I’m forced to move on to another world and other characters, sometime in the near future. So it’s RESEARCH.

You know what I love about writing? Aside from, you know, everything. I love that reading is research. And NO, that’s not just a cop-out to get my husband to leave me alone when I’m reading or make him go get me the next book in a series when I’m hooked. It really is. I almost always “read like a writer”, as the creative writing profs put it in college–with an eye toward characterization, plotting, dialogue, description, symbolism, etc. Even as I’m following the story and getting caught up in the plot, a part of my brain is working to notice other things. It’s not really something I can control anymore–the writer part of my brain kind of took everything else over a few years ago.

Every so often I mourn this habit, as I love nothing more than getting so sucked into a book that I forget everything else around me. You know, when someone interrupts your reading, and it’s like waking up from an incredible dream–you have to re-orient yourself to your surroundings, figure out what time of day it is, and probably throw something at the person who interrupted you? But if a book is really good, like crazy good, it can still happen.

Mortal Instruments did that to me several times, which is why I re-read the first one–I wanted to read it with an eye toward style and plotting and all that technical stuff. The first time, I just got sucked in, occasionally stepping out to wonder how, exactly, she’d done it. Since I want to do that with storytelling, I have to figure it out, y’know?

It’s still the most incredible thing to me, that this thing I’ve done since I was tiny, this thing I’ve never been able to help doing, could be a part of my job. I always hated it when I was little or in my teens, and I’d be reading, and my parents would force me to get my nose out of the book and socialize or do chores.*

MWA HA HA! I say to them now. Just TRY and stop me from reading. I have the world’s best excuse now. “But I’m working!

And speaking of which, since I spent yesterday at the in-laws, reading and getting a tan…it’s time to get back to work. The actual writing work, not the reading work. I can only use the “But it’ work!” excuse for so long, you know.

*My parents have multiple pictures of me reading on vacations, on holidays, etc. They’d turn the camera toward me and be like, “Oh, and here’s a picture of Kristy doing what she always does, but in a different place/on Christmas Eve!”

One thought on “Reading as Research

  1. Do your inlaws live near the beach.
    You DID succeed in 'sucking' in your reader with Grim Light. It has 'feeling and depth'.
    So if reading helps with your research and plot away for the next in the series – keep reading.

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