No, the second phrase in that title is not some secret dirty lingo. It’s a commonly used phrase in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books (maybe you’ve heard of them?) that means, basically, that something is a ruse, an act, a joke. And that is exactly what my attempts to write have been lately, friends. For serious.
I always take a healthy break after finishing a first draft, because drafting is difficult and tiring for me. So after wrapping up the WiP sometime after Thanksgiving, I set it aside and focused on the exciting trip I took, and the new friends I made. Something I enjoyed—like, a lot—during my break was reading Martin’s series.
I got… um… quite into them. In about three weeks I read the first three books—a total of more than 3,000 pages of a high-fantasy series that features kingdoms, swords, horses, dragons, wolves, and just about every single thing that is NOT in my contemporary YA WiP.
So when I opened up Scrivener and began to clear the cobwebs from my book… I couldn’t quite do it. Everything was “m’lady” this, and “by the seven gods” that. I couldn’t shake the urge to sit and read A Feast for Crows; I just wanted to immerse myself in that world again.
Frankly, it was getting a little bit weird.
Then, like a just-in-time life vest tossed from the U.S.S. YA*, came January 10 and the release of John Green’s (brilliant, wonderful, Kleenex-box-crushingly sad) novel The Fault in Our Stars.
It was a jarring switch from 27 characters that mostly want to put each others’ heads on spikes to an introspective 16-year old cancer patient that watches America’s Next Top Model. But it was like changing from fun but intense party shoes to sole-worn ballet flats. The same thing that always gets me about YA—the colloquialisms, the youthful cadence, the ability for authors to USE CAPS LOCK IN DIALOGUE—got my creative side to wake up again. My thoughts started returning to the WiP of their own accord, and I stopped having nightmares about undead strangers in the snow.
I’ve read countless tweets and blog posts about people carefully selecting the books they read while drafting, worried that the voice or style would interfere with their writing by being too different, or too much the same. But I’d honestly never experienced it ’til now! It was confusing and strange, and overall I’d say I don’t recommend it. I’m back on the path and gearing up for revisions. But man, that was a wild sidetrack!
What about you?? Are you careful about what books you read while drafting/revising/rewriting? Have you had a book/series take over your creative brain? How do you break out of writing slumps?
*Yeah, you're right, that was a bit of a stretch. I told you, I've been outta the game!