It’s a true thing, I’ve discovered. As far as I know there is no word for it, but there should be.
As soon as you purchase a certain number of books in a particular style or genre (or check said books out of the library), you will become bored with that style or genre. This rule immediately precedes Tsundoku. In fact, I believe this is the act that is the root cause of Tsundoku, which for those of you who won’t follow the simple clicky-thing, is simply the act of letting books pile up unread.
I learned that word (Tsundoko, not “unread”) yesterday, and then decided I should make inroads in my own very real Tsundoku problem by reading some of my more recent book purchases. Yet all of those purchases are Sci Fi and Fantasy and I gotta say that I am all magic sword and spacefleeted out. I know that in a few weeks I’ll be in the mood for genetically engineered dragons and the orphan boys who love them and we will breeze through the screenswipes in happy accord. But right now? Ugh. Even the jacket blurbs (which I still call “jacket blurbs” in spite of dust jackets being both utterly annoying and vestigial) are making me roll my eyes. “Elanth is a world without sunlight, and the biolumenescent Ashgari rule over it with a glowing fist of iron. When the sly young pickpocket K’ryth discovers, quite by chance, that he has the gift for creating light at will the world will never be the same”–The Chronicles of Zippo The Elder
It’s enough to make you want to give up reading altogether.
There is a twin malady to this as-yet-unnamed plague, and that is the wavering one does when trying to decide which of the OTHER piled-up genres you should tackle. There are all those mysteries from back around the early fall that I acquired in a fit of rediscovery. There are the history books that look interesting and are, mostly, if you can handle reading all about Andrew Johnson’s laundry bills.
I get very cranky when I don’t have a book on deck–that is a truth long acknowledged. It’s worse not even having an idea of which stack to peruse. My library is like a waiting room at a time-traveling psychiatrist’s office. Vikings sit shoulder to shoulder with lesbian detectives and former prime ministers. But there’s almost too much interesting material. I’m awash in it and therefore I’m somewhat overstuffed.
There should be a word for that too.
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November is turning into the worst month for me as a writer. By the time it’s ten days old I’m already blitzed by endless word counts and pep talks about fiction. I love writing. I more and more hate being a writer. Being a writer these days is less about telling stories and more about getting your name out there.
I frankly don’t care if people know my name or not. I mean, I want them to know in a conversation because “hey, you, lady” is not my favourite way to be addressed. But as far as being Katherine Coble, Author goes I’m getting more and more meh on the concept. I don’t want people to know my name because I’m wheeling and dealing and schmoozing. I want them to know my name because they read my story and it clicked in their head. It struck a chord. Real writing takes a reader too; all work is only half done if it isn’t read because the reader brings the spark that ignites the fireworks. I can pack as much powder and smoke into it as possible, but it is still only potential.
Most of the really talented writers I know are trying earnestly to find their sparks. They just want to get their work into proper hands so that it can happen. But the most talented self-promoters of my acquaintance are mediocre writers at best. One person whom I knew only through other writers and who is no longer in my circle is a genius at self-promotion. Sadly, her work feels awful to me. Reading it is painful, almost a slap in the face. Because if you consider that a book takes two to fire on all cylinders it’s obvious as you read a self-promoter’s work that all they care about is being able to say they’ve written this or that novel. They don’t care about what the reader may bring to it, so they don’t bother working on a good readers’ experience. In reading the introductory sample passages in this author’s young adult story about angels I was struck at how much it was solely about the author, with no consideration for the reader. But she can go forth and proclaim that she has authored best-selling novels that are optioned for movies.
I don’t want to fall into the trap, though, of pretending like publicity is all foul filth and beneath the artiste. That’s not true. But what are you selling? Are you selling the book, the story, the experience or are you selling the You? I belong to my God, my spouse and my self. I would love for my stories to connect with the people they’re meant to connect to.
I’ve decided this November that writing is like a side salad at a restaurant. It’s mostly delicious if you get a good dressing, but there are always the icky bits. In order for it to be very good you have to eat it all together instead of piece by piece. But there are still the wilty lettuce edges and the occasional radish.
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