read

A few days after I listed my three one-word summaries of my goals for this year (write; hydrate; exercise.) I realised that I’d left one off the list: read.

It slipped my mind because reading has always been an integral part of my life

Yet, reading for pleasure has taken a lower priority as demands on my time have increased. In two hours I can watch a movie, but a book requires a greater investment.

I read all the time: articles, journals, magazines, news items, blogs, etc. On top of this I’m usually involved in some kind of research, which requires scouring through history books, reference material, and/or online resources.

I adore research. In an ideal world I would be paid to live in a library with a high-speed broadband connection, where I could research and write to my heart’s content. This is why I spent so much time in universities. I love to immerse myself in the close examination of a subject, where I can enjoy the freedom to pursue tangents and hunt elusive details that eventually circle back to my original topic.

If I’m researching a subject for a piece I’m writing then I usually stop after I’ve ingested a chunk of information. There is a risk of knowing too much. I can’t even describe where that cut-off point exists. My creativity is limited if I’ve too much data in my head.

What I strive to attain is enough to understand and reflect the information, but not so much that I drown in the minutiae. I love minutiae — it exerts a siren call upon me. I can spend days tracking down tiny details that mean nothing to anyone else but me. But, the readers don’t need to see all of that in my work.

I’m already scouting for research for my next script, and the project I’ve lined up after that. I visited one of the libraries close to me recently and noticed (approvingly) the wealth of information on one of the subjects I’ll have to assimilate.

Each time I am delighted and daunted in equal parts at the research that is required.

Even when I read a book for pleasure now there are other multiple agenda being fulfilled: I’m keeping up with the market, I’m examining the writer’s style and how well s/he delivers the story, I’m observing it for new techniques, and somewhere in there I’m enjoying the experience. This year I plan to read more books than I did in 2005.

I have a huge to read pile. I went into a bookshop on Saturday, and ended up going to the counter three times.

“I have to escape this shop,” I told the guy on the register as I made my third purchase.

This year I want to tackle my “to read” pile so that if I stacked the texts on top of each other they won’t tower over me. It would help if I stopped buying books, of course.

I haven’t even mentioned the scripts I want to read…

I don’t view this as a chore. I love to read, and it’s a required task for those who write. It’s a matter of shifting priorities and making time for everything. Once again, sleep is taking a hit.

In keeping with my resolution I finished Michael Carroll’s new Young Adult novel, The Quantum Prophecy, which wasn’t difficult: the story zips along. It’s full of realistic teenaged characters who are thrown into unfamiliar and difficult situations and must learn to cope. Teens grappling with superpowers is a much-used metaphor for the struggle towards adulthood and Michael deals with it in a smart and knowing fashion. I expect this book will be hugely popular with its target audience, and I look forward to the next in the series.

If I can make time to read it, of course!