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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Reading And Writing



It seems I can't read and write at the same time. And I don't just mean in a literal, physical sense.

If I'm in the middle of reading a good book then my mind will be dwelling, in quiet moments, on those characters and situations. Those are the same quiet moments I really need fill with musings about my own novel, if I'm to sort out my plot holes.

Nothing has brought this to light more clearly than recently reading through the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. Most of them are short stories (concise enough that I can pick one up in bed and finish it before I fall asleep), but there are also a small number of novels. And on the days when I was part way through reading a novel, my brain was occupied with trying to follow the threads of the the mystery to some kind of solution.

I've often said that writing uses the same part of my brain as reading does (the "living in a fantasy world" part...) and this is another example. It seems that if I want to write novels, I can now only read short stories. Thankfully this doesn't seem to apply when I'm in the "editing" phase, so it will only affect about half of my life!

Does anyone have any recommendations for good short stories, now I've run out of Holmes?

16 comments:

LindyLouMac said...

I understand exactly what you mean which is why I could never be an author as I love reading too much. I am not a fan of short stories so no recommendations for you sorry.

Expats Again said...

No short stories to recommend at the moment, but a great website put together by mystery writers might interest you. You probably are familiar with them. They discuss different aspects of writing, their lives, and a host of other topics. Try it:

http://www.murderati.com/

Rachel said...

Margery Allingham wrote short stories as well as novels. They tend to be mysteries.

And Rudyard Kipling wrote a *lot* of short stories.

LambAround said...

Hmmmm...I don't have any short story collections to recommend, but have you tried any of the Sophie Kinsella books? They're such fun reads! :)

Kel said...

I have the exact same problem. I've actually put my writing on hold in order to catch up on some good reads.

Lily Johnson said...

I write short stories but i really can't recommend any collection. Just finished an Erica James novel. Not bad.

Fly Girl said...

I understand exactly what you're talking about. It's something about the writing process that makes your brain explore other formats. I just finished The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. It's a brilliant collection.

Alice Braga a.k.a. Alice Marie said...

I can identify with the reading-writng conflict. I'll "allow" myself magazine articles when I'm immersed in lengthy writing. The lighter and more superficial the better. LOL Sorry no short story recommendations.

ScoMan said...

I find it difficult to talk and speak at the same time.

I can't think of any short stories off the top of my head. Damn. I'm no help to you.

Heidi said...

I have heard it said that when one starts writing, he/she stops reading. It certainly is true with me. I haven't been able to really enjoy a good novel since I learned my first book was going to be published. It is almost impossible for my disbelief to be suspended. Also, I don't want to inadvertently lift ideas, voice or plot from other writers as I am working on new books all the time. I did a copious amount of reading before then and I miss that feeling of satisfaction and discovery when one cracks open a new story.

JadeLD said...

Joanne Harris writes short stories - she's the author of Chocolat and5 Quarters of the Orange and lots more great books.

I read her book of short stories recently - Jigs and Reels. Quite a mixture in there!

liliannattel said...

Alice Munro and Carol Shields. The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God by Etgar Keret.

Slamdunk said...

I don't have any recommendations off the top of my head, but I googled best short stories and found lots of interesting lists including classics and modern works.

cornflakegirl74 said...

I have this problem myself. I feel as though I have to fully immerse myself in one or the other, but I can't seem to juggle both at the same time or I feel my mind wandering too much.

One of my very favorite pieces of writing is a short story called "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. It's fantastic and twisted and hard to put down and super, duper short, but it's a fascinating read. I wasn't terribly thrilled with her other stuff, which surprised me, since I love that piece so much. Let me know if you have the chance to pick it up!

Shanimal said...

When I read, man, my mind wanders. I'm not really 100% focused on the words that lay before my eyes--which is probably why most times I have to reread something at least 3 times before it actually sinks in. :|

Have you read any short stories by Shirley Jackson? I think she's most famous for The Lottery.

Andy Cater said...

Anythng by Saki (HH Munro), Anything by Sholom Aleichem - the man who wrote the short stories on which Fiddler on the roof is based.

One gives you Edwardian sarcasm, one gives you life in the shtetl - both absorbing.

Oscar Wilde: particularly The Selfish Giant and Happy Prince

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