Stephen King wrote that you need to read a lot to get the right tools to write. He’s a hundred percent right. I’ve been working on my third novel for 8-9 months now and my productivity and focus is weak. I worry that I won’t finish it. Since I changed position at work, it’s been difficult to find pockets of time to really dive down into the story. Five minutes here and there won’t cut it.
It’s been the same with my reading. I’ve had trouble focusing on one book and keep skipping between a few different ones. These are the (main) two I’m reading at the moment with descriptions in italics (from Amazon):
Once a privileged and loving couple, the Armsteads have now reached a breaking point. Ben, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has become unpredictable at work and withdrawn at home—a change that weighs heavily on his wife, Helen, and their preteen daughter, Sara. Then, in one afternoon, Ben’s recklessness takes an alarming turn, and everything the Armsteads have built together unravels, swiftly and spectacularly.
Thrust back into the working world, Helen finds a job in public relations and relocates with Sara from their home in upstate New York to an apartment in Manhattan. There, Helen discovers she has a rare gift, indispensable in the world of image control: She can convince arrogant men to admit their mistakes, spinning crises into second chances. Yet redemption is more easily granted in her professional life than in her personal one.
As she is confronted with the biggest case of her career, the fallout from her marriage, and Sara’s increasingly distant behavior, Helen must face the limits of accountability and her own capacity for forgiveness.
The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet: the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 . . . and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.
I haven’t finished either one of them yet (my Kindle tells me I’m around halfway through), but they’re both good in their own way. I think Beautiful Ruins is definitely a more accomplished/complicated story with lots of layers and very interesting characters. It skips constantly between time and perspective, but despite the intricate storytelling it isn’t hard to follow. It’s definitely one of those books that intimidates you as a fellow writer. There’s a thin line between intimidating and inspiring obviously, a lot of it has to do with your own confidence and mindset, which for a writer goes up and down like an elevator in a Keanu Reeves movie.
But right now it’s kind of intimidating.
There’s a sentence I read today in Beautiful Ruins that is really good and you all know I’m a sucker for a clever line:
“This is what happens when you live in dreams, he thought; you dream this and you dream that and you sleep right through your life.”
Beautiful Ruins sure has some beautiful writing in it – recommended! And I will finish it! Promise.
The same hopefully goes for Six Strings, the story about young guitarist with a amnesia that I’m working on. It’s slow progress, but I’ll do my best to get at least 500 words done a day. Won’t be easy, but who said writing is?