Despondently looking to read

I’m falling out of love with YA fiction lately (temporarily I hope?) and in dire need of a good book to fall into. I just spent over an hour at the library today and left with a few non-fiction books to browse, but no fiction.

Am I taking this writing thing too seriously? Getting too snarky of my own process, my own “prose” then being hyper-critical of everything I read? I need some perspective.

In my feedly today, I found a post by Kristen Lamb1 discussing the three phases of becoming a writer (she says Master, but I’ll be stingy/self-critical/melodramatically despondent and say Writer to mean the same thing). My reading malaise places me slogging through phase two, likely near the beginning: “During the early parts of this phase, books likely will no longer be fun.”

In the outdoors, I’m something of a masochist. I love bushwhacking (think hiking, take away the trail, and add a 3d mesh of forest thicker than any jungle scene you’ve ever seen in the movies — bushwhacking with scratch, bruise and sometimes require cat-like weaving multiple meters off the ground — totally awesome). I should love this stage (love is a strong word… hate is too… I’m somewhere in stage 2 between the two?). At least it’s progress. My friend Dan tells me it takes ten thousand hours2 to become an expert at anything (apparently he was quoting Malcolm Gladwell); I’ve read it takes a million words of crap to write something beautiful. Currently, I’m still working on them. Hopefully, I can break for enjoyable reading before they’re through.

Thank you Kristen for your timely post.

1. In Kristen’s blog, she is generously offering a draw for a critique. An extra ballot is earned for mentioning her book, but I think, given the topic of the blog post, I can’t offer a fair referral or appraisal right now. I’ll have to check it out later.

2. Corrected. Dan (and Malcolm Gladwell) say 10000 hrs to become an expert.

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5 thoughts on “Despondently looking to read

  1. Malcolm Gladwell says 10,000 hours, not 1,000 hours, of focused practice is necessary to become an expert.

    1. Sounds ’bout right. I just googled “1000 hrs expert” and got loads of links. Should’ve compared with 10000 ;). I’ll edit it to make sure you aren’t attributed with the wrong quote.

  2. I hope you would love “Late Nights on Air” by Elizabeth Hay as much as I did. It’s the (semi-true) story of a group of CBC employees in the isolated Yellowknife studio, and the complexities of their relationships played out against a backdrop of endless night skies and harsh summer days. What really makes the work stand out is Elizabeth’s gorgeous poetic writing – the NWT has never been described in such lyrical terms.

  3. Oh! On a similar note, I really enjoyed “The Shipping News” by E. Annie Proulx. Newfoundland stands in for NWT this time. The ending’s a bit goofier than it ought to be, and it starts off debilitatingly sad – but the story is uplifting and the characters are magnificently written with heaps of subtlety lurking under grandiose eccentricities.

    1. Thank you Jay! You’re the first to take this as a hint for book recommendations :). I’ll check out Late Nights on Air first. The shipping news I tried before and didn’t make it through that debilitating sad start.

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