Do I have to learn from a book?

I often wonder if I should be learning more from my reading. During my downtime I race through books, devouring the story and, occasionally, noticing the details. Is this enough? Do I get less out of reading because I do it on such a basic level? Surely I’m doing a disservice to the author and their craft? Or am I being too self involved? Books should be enjoyable and I do enjoy books. Surely you can’t read wrong???

I do wonder if this type of reading is contributing to my biggest failure- the UNFINISHED book. Ok books. The most recent one is longer than most and not too shabby if I say so myself. Shame I’ve not looked at it in weeks months. Since the awful night that I confided in a stranger that I was writing a book.

The night started off well, I was still in love with my book. The storyline was (and still is) developed with multiple chapters written and most others planned in sufficient detail. The attention to wording and developing themes was also coming along nicely. I was on top of the world, full of confidence. Then I had a conversation with Script Writer Supreme. SWS is writing a movie script, full of passion and enthusiasm. I felt safe enough to confide that I was writing a book & we giggled “what are the odds?”. Then he started to sell me his script. With a sinking feeling I realised that his idea was a complete mash up of Sliding Doors and BIG. It wasn’t good. But he believed it to be brilliant and his ticket in life. Although slightly inebriated I was incredibly aware that he was going to stop talking and expect a pat on the back for his cleverness. Gulping back my drink I asked the only question that would redirect his sales pitch “So, who would you like to play you?”. Yes SWS is so self involved that his script included himself as a character. Not a character based on himself but him-acual-self! I can’t even remember his answer, but it was a struggle not to laugh and retort “Out. Of. Your. League.”

This experience has worried me. If I tell people I’m writing a book, will I react the same way? Will I expect praise and encouragement automatically? Will I get shirty with every critique? Can I cope with comparisons? I have all these ideas for subsequent novels (not sequels- that will be another post!) but seen unable to harness them.

I suppose my real question is how can I write when I can’t even read?

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