A Guest Post for MLBB: Thoughts about Reading Books while Writing Books

Consider the obvious when an author names one of their hobbies being reading. That would make a lot of sense; in a call-and-response kind of matter. An author wouldn’t be in the profession they’re in now if they didn’t read in their spare time and any author that doesn’t read is one that ought to not be trusted.

As an author myself, I too am just as adamant about reading as I am about writing, and an activity like that doesn’t stop when I’m creating reading material myself. I still read, amidst the story that’s swirling in my own head… and it’s the balance regarding switching between two different, fictional worlds at a time that remains to be a challenge.

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I’ve been a published author for a little over a year now. I released my debut novel, “A Moment’s Worth,” last year, and I’m currently in the editing stage for my second novel. I wrote the draft for the second novel in a little over six months, and during that time, I read a total of 10 books. Some of the books include: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline, and “The Sun Gods” by Jay Rubin. These along with a graphic novel, a poetry collection, and a short story collection make up some of the books I’ve read during the drafting period for the second novel.

Anyone familiar with these titles knows that they’re not at all similar to one another. Sure, some of them may share similar strands, but they’re all just as different as they can get. One of them could easily be an incredibly long proverb with a plot, one of them easily falls under the historical fiction genre, one of them is a memoir, and one of them is yet another addition to the heightened dystopian genre. All the while, over on my end of the fiction sphere, without giving away my yet-to-be disclosed synopsis, I’ve been working on a novel that is more or less science/utopian fiction, with a twist of civil rights infused.

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For that matter, with the material in my head and whatever material I’ve been reading have, for the most part, differed greatly, and one can imagine how mind boggling it can get when jumping between works like that. One minute I may be writing a really heavy scene for my book, the next minute I’m reading up about how two gods from Filipino folklore came together and fell in love. It’s exhausting!
Words in books, when crafted in as clever of a way possible, can be powerful, and sometimes influential; so much as to where it can deter between passing through your mind without a second thought, or manifesting itself in your mind into a whole new thought experiment. In other words, you have a choice between being influenced by the work you’re reading, or not at all.

Out of the books that I’ve read during the drafting period, there were a few that I chose for thematic purposes; in attempt to further develop ideas of my own. I did something similar while writing my first novel; where I read a heap of David Mitchell’s novels, and I let them manifest in my head and aid me in the direction I wanted to take. I always say that it’s okay to have influences and inspirations, so long as you’re not stabbing them in the back and completely ripping them off.

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As for the books where I just want to read and enjoy and not mesh with the story in my head, I treat those in a different way. I treat books like those similar to how I would visit a different country; where I would respect the laws and customs there. I’m only there for a limited period of time before I’m on my way. For that matter, that’s why I’ve managed to switch between writing my novel, and then go off to read something completely different, like a fantasy tale or something. I don’t know if it’s from my nature as a bookworm that I’m able to do this, or my skills as a writer where I can simply get lost in my own world.

Either way, this is how I’m able to continue reading the books that I want to read while writing the books I want to write. It’s all about deciding which books you want to be influenced by, and which ones you simply want to “visit.” Just be sure that something is gained from the chosen path.

“Reading about journeys while on a journey is an intensely stimulating experience” –Umberto Eco

Written by Lauren Lola

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