Reading Between the Lines

About a month ago, the novel I’m working on stalled out. Since I’m a year past when I thought I’d be finished with it, this repeat delay had me questioning everything about my existence as a writer. I’d stare into the headlights of the 20Booksto50K group, thinking about how I needed to WRITE. RIGHT NOW. PUT WORDS ON THE DOCUMENT. And then I’d feel guilty and imposter-syndrome-y for not writing.

And then I picked up a book off my to-be-read pile. A friend of mine had lent me Paperbacks From Hell, and I had been meaning to read it to get in the mood to start editing the Crone Girls Press anthology. She messaged me to ask if I could return it, as she had another friend interested in reading it. I said yes, of course, and cracked it open. I ended up reading the entire book in one day, writing down notes until I had a list of about 20 titles to add to my reading pile, all in one horror subgenre or another. From that book, I went on to finish The Storyteller’s Secret, which I’d already renewed once at the library, as well as Robert Crais’ new novel, A Dangerous Man, and another book I’d borrowed from my friend, The Magic Toyshop. I then dove into Sam Sykes’ Seven Blades in Black, which I’d been meaning to get around to and then when I started, found it hard to put down. And this was all in the past week.

Something happened when I started getting back into this reading groove. No matter what I was reading, whether it was about the rise of splatterpunk, how the rule of three makes for an effective public speaking strategy, or the latest adventures of Joe Pike and Elvis Cole, somehow my synapses in the writing part of my brain starting firing again. What if, they whispered, instead of doing this — this other thing happened instead? What if ?

And when that started to happen, when things start to connect and congeal and make sense, I realized why I had waited so long. Because the right story wasn’t there yet.

I’ve still got a bunch of work to do this next week – anthology edits, my first stab at a brand-name triathlon, some Army Reserve stuff to tie up, and a short story I need to sit down and finish. But that THING that says, sit down and WRITE, not just because you’re supposed to, but because I can’t NOT write — that’s what’s waiting for me to put butt to chair, hand to keyboard, words to paper.

But first … let me finish this chapter!

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