I've just given myself a shot in the arm. Not only did I find motivation to pull out the revision I'm working on and start cutting away all the floof and sputter, but I also was able to see some needed changes in my WIP. I'd sort of written myself into a wall (a low wall, but a wall nonetheless) that just didn't feel great. But now I can push through it and get to where I and my characters want to be.
Where, you may ask, did I get this magical shot in the arm? This clarity of mind and motivation to believe I can do hard things?
I read. And read and read and read.
Traci Hunter Abramson's Smokescreen.
Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series (the first three of six).
I think I started on Friday and finished on Tuesday. Still sleepy . . .
BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT. Yes, I know none of these books are in my genre. IT DOESN'T MATTER.
What matters is these stories were great. The strengths of all of these reads were exactly what I needed.
Character. These characters were believable, real, acted and made choices as only they would. I missed them for a couple of days after finishing. As a writer, that would be a wish of mine. For my characters to linger, to be remembered, because they became real, individual, strong. I need to keep that in mind as I write this new story. I love it when you know a character so well as a reader, you can start to predict what action they're going to take, and it opens up a whole new opportunity for tension when a block is thrown in, preventing that character from making that choice. Eeee!
Pace. The timing in these stories was right on for me. There was no lull, the action balanced the introspection, the pages kept turning, there was no floof and sputter. Everything moved the story forward. The final few pages of City of Glass felt like that last moment on the roller coaster ride, when the cars slow to a stop and pitch forward before halting, and there I found that it could have ended just a little sooner and been completely satisfying, but all of these books exemplified pacing to me, and I really needed a refresher course on that.
Voice. Both of these authors are very different, very unique from one another, as you can imagine just by their chosen genres. I find if I go too long without reading other authors, just hunkering down and working on my edits, my revisions, my writing, me, me, ME . . . I begin to worry that I sound monotonous, that I'm writing what I've already written, that I'm beginning to drone.
To read someone else is to take a break from that; clear your palette. After reading such strong voices in other books, when I come back to mine I can see what makes my writing uniquely mine, and it's not monotonous. I just got used to it.
So, I am motivated. All juiced up on reading. Back to work.