Until a couple days ago, I hadn't read a book in well over six months. Not because I don't like reading... because I love it. I discovered reading when I was 11, and haven't stopped. I skipped over the whole young adult (not that they called it that)/tween fiction thing and went right to literary fiction. I was big into historical women's fiction; long, family sagas that dealt with a deep, dark secret. When I exhausted the public library's stock of such awesomeness, I somehow made the transition over to mainstream, popular romance like Nora Roberts and... well, I don't remember who else. That led to more genre romance: lots of suspense, mystery, historical, contemporary... You name it. I always had a book with me at school so there was something I could read when I had finished my work (great incentive to not procrastinate). It opened up my world. I learned so much (not because genre fiction is filled with "things to know," but I would go research the things that caught my attention while I was reading).
But my love for reading wasn't what transitioned me into writing. In fact, it was the other way around. I have been dreaming up "stories" in my mind since before I can remember. As early as second grade, one of my best friends and I would sit out on her back patio and write stories for one another. I would take mine home and finish them. I kept writing journals (though, I didn't call them that), jotted down my ideas, and lived in my own little world (anyone who knew me in those days would probably agree... miss popularity/social butterfly I was not). I took a creative writing class as part of the gifted program in high school, but it wasn't until I went to St Andrews University in Scotland that I really learned how to harness some of those ideas into real works. I think going to that program was quite possibly one of the best things I ever did for myself.
I finished my first novel when I was a junior at Georgia Tech. I had a lot of half-baked ideas and manuscripts, but that was the first time I finished one. Not going to lie... It probably isn't that great. A place with Harlequin it might have, but that may even be pushing it. Perhaps, someday, I will go back and workshop it into something marketable, but for the time being, it's just... an accomplishment of minor magnitude. It got me writing, however, and I haven't stopped since. I finished my second full manuscript the next year--it's been workshopped multiple times, but it still isn't right. I started working on it again at the beginning of the summer, but got stuck, again, and have let it go dormant once more. My first semester of graduate school, I began another one. It was supposed to be YA fiction, but it has morphed into something more adult in the last few writings, and once again, about half way through, I got stuck.
The Blood Child is the first manuscript I have finished and been happy with as a whole. It has done everything I wanted it to do, and I think it can become something great (if only I can find someone who believes in it as much as I do). I started writing it in the winter of 2008/2009, and, for all intents and purposes, it has remained fairly true to my original idea. It feels good. And with a finished product I feel good about, I thought it was time to go back to one of my favorite past times: reading.
Having been out of the reading loop for awhile, I have a lot of free Kindle books I have been stocking up on. But when it came time to read something, I picked up the one book that has been buzzing around social media since I quit reading. You guessed it: Shades of Grey.
I almost feel embarrassed at admitting that, but I really just wanted to see what all of the hype is about. My assessment: it's a bit long, it needs some editting (what doesn't?), Ms. James is a much better writer than Stephenie Meyer, and the sex is far tamer than everyone has made it out to be. I've been reading it pretty quickly, but not just because I want to see how it ends (I only have 100 pages left), but because I want to get back to writing.
When I read, I miss writing. Perhaps more than I miss reading when I stop to write (I can't do both at the same time--reading kills my imagination). I already have a wonderful story ready to go (something I have been playing around with since 2007 that I have been able to work into The Blood Child storyline). I started writing it--really writing it--a couple weeks ago, but put it on hold when I came to visit my parents, but reading has really gotten the creative juices flowing.
Wow, that sounds crass... especially when coupled with the fact that I am reading 50 Shades.
Anyway, I find it rather amusing that erotic romance has inspired me to write a sci-fi military epic/romance. It's going to be epic, ya'll.