Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two Reading Hats

Welcome to Anita's Attic

I just read that the pink ribbon hat Princess Beatrice wore for the royal wedding sold on eBay for over $131,000. The only good thing I can say about that hat is that the proceeds of its sale raised money for charity. Quite a bizarre fashion statement, but it got me to thinking about hats; in this case, metaphorical hats. For most writers, our love of stories began as readers. When I was young, I was fascinated by the worlds I found between the pages of a book. I still am. It never occurred to me that I might write one myself until a few years ago. I had been on a reading jaunt that was about as insane as that hat the Princess wore, when it occurred to me that I could write a story. Or so I thought. I found out that writing a good story wasn’t as easy as I’d expected. But I learned and I persevered and here I am, with a Scottish paranormal series and an author hat to go with my reader hat.

When reading for pleasure, I can completely lose myself in a story. Nothing matters but those characters and that plot. I’m not picky about those little technicalities that drive writers and editors crazy. I’m there, living the characters’ joys and their woes. But if I put on that author hat and read, it becomes an entirely different thing. I start seeing the creation of the story, the way the author strung the words together to build the plot, to create characters. Are there too many adverbs, not enough sentence variation, too much telling – not enough showing? Is the writing just not engaging enough? Or did the author do something that was brilliant, that made me gasp in awe and feel the bite of envy? Sometimes that author’s hat gets in the way. Instead of just enjoying a movie, I’m busy analyzing the plot, because as a writer I know where the story should go. It can take away from the enjoyment of books or movies if you’re not careful. But if you’ve hit a wall, that hat can come in handy.

A few times as I was writing Awaken the Highland Warrior, either my warriors weren’t behaving, or my writing just seemed to dry up. I think I needed to step away and look at the story fresh. If I had that luxury, I took it, but if I was pushed for time, I grabbed a book, put on my author hat and read a few paragraphs, and I was back in the game. So I love both my hats, I really do, and I think there’s a time and place for each.

What about you? Do you have a reader and an author hat?

15 comments:

Kari Lee Townsend said...

OMG this is my third time posting this flipping comment. If it doesn't go through again...I am going to kill someone. I AM a mystery author, you know, so look out blogger! Grrrr.

Anyway, as I was saying, I have the hardest time getting lost in a story these days. I always find myself analyzing everything I read or even watch. I have to work at getting lost, so when I do, it's really a pleasant surprise...but then I go right back to analyzing how it happened :-)

Cassy Pickard said...

Do you find it different when you are writing your own work versus reading someone else's? I do. When I write I am fussing constantly with my words, the pacing, the character arcs, and more. When I am reading as a CP, I am also focused on the components of the story. But, as a reader enjoying a story I am able to let go in a different way. The story can take over. So, I do wear many hats. Great post. Thanks for bringing this up, for now I'm going to pay closer attention to how I "read."

Liz Lipperman said...

Great post, Anita. Unfortunately for me, when I read for pleasure I can't turn off my author/editor hat. It kind of takes the big pleasure out of reading. I love it when occasionally a story makes me forget I even know how to write!!


And Kari, I have been burned too many times by Blogger, so I automatically highlight and copy before publishing. It has saved my tush many times.

Lindsay said...

I think YOu've found a new victim for you next book Kari-blogger. And the way it's acting it might be one of mine also.
Anyway, I can't turn off the writer hat when I watch TV or read. It's just there.
But I'm glad my writer/reader hat isn't as ugly as the one Princess Beatrice wore

Cassy Pickard said...

You folks are too funny. Can't you let go? Aren't there times you read and that's only it? Reading and enjoying?

Lindsay said...

Cassy, once a nurse, always a nurse. As with writer/reader I can't turn off my nurse hat just because I don't have a license any more.

anitaclenney said...

Oh my gosh. So it's not just me that blogger is driving me insane. I couldn't get through. It kept telling me to sign in but wouldn't accept my password, even though I knew it was correct. I had to go out and use a different browser to get here. And then it wouldn’t let me actually post.

Kari, sometimes I can enjoy and analyze a book or a movie at the same time. And I’ve getting better at it. Other times, I lean more to one or the other. It's fun with movies because I'll say "he's going to do this" and after the character does, hubby will say, "How did you know that?" I say, "Because that's what gives the best punch in the story." I'm not always right. I love being wrong. Surprises are nice.

Lindsay said...

Anita, I thought women were always right and men were only when permission was given by a woman

anitaclenney said...

#$$#$@#@, that's me cussing! I just lost my comment to Cassy. I forgot to copy it. Let's start again.

Cassy, it varies with me. I'm always critical of my own work. I can get lost in someone else's, but if I'm critiquing their work, even though I would like to read once through just as a reader, I find it hard to move past problem spots without noting them. I'm the same with my own work. I edit as I go. I do big edits later, but if I catch something I have to fix it right then.

anitaclenney said...

Liz, I hope you had a great time in Destin. Austin's mom was there at the same time.

It's frustrating when you can't enjoy the story for the words. I love it when I can.

anitaclenney said...

Lindsay, that was an ugly hat. It works for me that women are always right. :)

Anita Clenney said...

Okay this is just a test to see if it works now.

Anita Clenney said...

It works!!

Donna Cummings said...

I don't often get lost in a story anymore -- and I miss that. When it does happen, I'm thrilled, because there's nothing else like it. I don't even read as much as I used to, but fortunately, since I'm writing about books on Heroes and Heartbreakers, I have to read more. LOL And reading really does improve my own writing, so I want to be able to indulge in it more. :)

Anita Clenney said...

Donna, I don't read as much anymore either, and I really miss it. I love getting carried away with a story.