Does being a writer ruin you as a reader?

Don’t get me wrong, I still love reading. It’s just different now.

Before I ventured down this path of no return, I don’t remember being bothered whether the author ‘told’ the story, rather than ‘showed’ it. I didn’t even consider ‘whose POV is this from?’ or if the author was too descriptive/not descriptive enough. And I can honestly say – hand on heart – I didn’t notice ‘repetitive sentence starts’ or ‘crutch words’ and since when did ‘filter words’ become the big no-no?

Back in the day, I read voraciously (I still do), enjoying historical fiction or mysteries more than anything. The joy of reading then was pure escapism – not to dissect the story structure, interrogate the character’s mindset and prove beyond any doubt it was the butler “what dun’ it”. (It’ll come as no surprise that I hated English Lit with all my heart and grammar was something I had nightmares about).

So, what changed? Writing, that’s what.

I fell into the NaNo swamp and thought, ‘hey, I can get out, with a brilliant story to boot.’ But, truth was, I couldn’t. I wrote the necessary 50,000 words and could bore you rigid with the details of my story – the one that lies in a forlorn state on my external hard drive – but I won’t. (It’ll make a comeback one day – just you wait and see!)
When I realised how bad – nay, dire – my efforts were, then I took the only option available and sought out a critique group.

I would nail this writing lark if it killed me.

Until the dreaded feedback returned with comments like ‘this is a POV glitch’, ‘you’re head-hopping’, ‘what does the character want?’, ‘where’s the conflict?’ – I’ll not go on because the memories make me want to bang my head on the table (and I already got stunned by a falling ladder yesterday, but that’s another story!)

Can you switch this inner editor off when you read? I know I can’t … hell, I can’t even switch it off when I’m writing – if  that red, squiggly line shows up then I just have to fix it. But when I’m reading, this annoying new-found knowledge can spoil a good book (not that good you might say if I can find fault with it now). I sometimes think I’m too critical these days, fussing over a typo or a sentence in need of some punctuation. But it matters. Now. It didn’t before – when ignorance was bliss. But now it does.

What’s a person to do? Stop reading? That’s a “NO” from me. Maybe audiobooks are the way forward – if I can’t see them, maybe I won’t notice those pesky filter words. I might try that …

Watch this space.

Oh, and thanks for reading 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Does being a writer ruin you as a reader?

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