Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Reading books, writing books and rewriting books

Sigh. Just when I thought I could get started writing my next novel, along comes the request to do some revisions on my previously-submitted novel. I KNEW this was going to happen, I knew this. And I thought I could handle writing my next book in addition to doing some minor editing on the other. (“Minor editing.” Hah! What a joke.) Turns out it’s not so much editing that needs to be done but some revising and some serious hitting-the-books to research domestic violence.

Sigh. Just when I thought I could get back to reading books for pleasure. Oh, well.

But, actually, I’m looking forward to this part of the revision stages. I’m a book freak and, first and foremost, have a personal interest in the books I made a list of to read. (I did do some minor research on this subject as I wrote my book but it wasn’t enough to “get it right.”)

All the same, it would be nice to be able to read some other books. Novels in the same genre as mine (and with similar themes) serve more as an inspiration than as a distraction or object of imitation. Oh, sure, I started copying Stephen King’s writing style after reading The Shining. But I later fixed that, okay? I fix those things because I want them to be my own and not somebody else’s. The main thing is that it inspired those words, those emotions and those scenes. It gave me a chance to look at horror and suspense writing differently. And of course the extra kick it adds to my imagination never hurts. :)

The books I’d like to read, though, are more nonfiction than fiction. And I really can’t see how I can write a scene where a guy is living in the past when I have Eckhart Toole telling me in his book that people need to forget the past. These nonfiction books INFLUENCE me. And they can influence my writing, my thinking, my attitudes.

And I have to put reading those books off, too, until this thing is DONE.

The thing that bugs me, though, is that my next book is once again put on hold. Well, actually, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. The character in my next novel (my protagonist) is a schizophrenic and even though I’ve done research on this MI to portray her accurately, I really feel it’s not enough. So while I’m reading about the psychology of abusers, I’m also given the chance to read up on schizophrenia (an editor commented that my book’s antag does display some qualities of a schizophrenic, so maybe that’s not so much of a distraction from my current book research). And of course I can dabble here and there with the next book, researching mental institutions and the cases of mental patients being killed all in the name of science. (Oh, wait a minute, am I giving away too much here??)

I have heard of some writers who can work on two or more different books at a time. This does not come easy for me. Believe me, I know from personal experience that I can only write one book at a time (as a teenager I tried juggling several books-in-progress at a time, and ALL of those stories remain unfinished). There is a difference, though: I’m not writing two first draft novels. I’d be writing the first draft of one and the (hopefully, please God let this be true!!) final draft of another one. And the final draft is pretty much laid out; I just have to go back into there to make everything the way it should be.

Still, I think I’m better off delaying my next book. I hate this idea but I’m the kind of writer that has to be 100% THERE with my stories and give it my full attention. I may be writing nonfiction books, essays, poetry and short stories on the side, but those aren’t too big of a distraction from my imagined world. They’re more of a reminder that I just need to stay grounded.


  • At 12:50 PM , Blogger Again - author said...

    I've authored two books till now... even though I want to, I just can't get myself to read. I don't know why. I am guessing it's the fear..
    I am vulnerable by nature. I fear if I start liking an author I'd start writing like him. I know I'd do that...
    Anyway, t'was nice to come across ur blog. Will visit often.

  • At 3:12 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...


    Thanks for the comment. I think all writers can be influenced by another writer's style from time to time. But the question is, why let fear hold you back? You only get one shot so just DO it! If you want to read, read. If you want to write, write. No work is set in stone and you have to discipline yourself to write and write until you recognize what style and voice are truly YOURS ... and what is not. When you write, give your work some time to "breathe" then read it again later with fresh eyes. Does it sound like your writing ... or Stephen King's? If it's not something you would normally write, strike it.

    I think if you want to enjoy reading books, you should go for it. :)

  • At 12:08 PM , Blogger Once the Conman said...

    Na-aa reading ain't my cup of tea. Maybe I'll really start reading when I finish writing all my books... I am certainly gonna stop writing books one day. Don't know when though.
    As for now, I can't even get myself to read the newspaper. Just cannot seem to focus.

  • At 2:32 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    The important thing is that you don't let fear hold you back. :)


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