Friday, May 18, 2007

Why I'm a Slow Reader

I'm trying to be a good writer of various flavors (good novelist, good playwright, good screenwriter). So I work pretty hard at the writing. And, in order to get better, I also need to read a bunch of books and watch a bunch of plays and movies. I love books, but I'm so slow at getting through them, it makes me crazy. It's taken me almost two weeks to get through P.G. Wodehouse's, Big Money, a book that should take about two sittings at most.

So, this morning, I was thinking about where my time goes. Here's what yesterday looked like:

6am – 8:40am. Get up. Walk dog 1 mile. Cook breakfast for kids and me. Get son ready for school. Wash dishes. Walk son to school, see teachers, drop off camera in classroom, walk home, walk dog into town and back to get local newspaper.

8:40-9:10am. Make soup for dinner and get it in fridge.

9:10am – 12:20pm. Write. Finish soup making.

12:20-2pm. Check e-mails. Call wife. Walk dog. Eat lunch (while making way slowly through Sunday NY Times). Shower. Start bread in bread machine. Pack snack for son. Drive to school.

2pm-5pm. Take son to dance class. Chat with other mom there. Read (here’s my reading time) for 20-30 minutes (this is a lot for me). Go home. Prep for dinner. Make hot dogs for son. Help son with his homework. Call to find where daughter's gone. Prep to take kids to soccer. Take dog out quickly. Drive daughter to soccer.

5pm – 7pm. While daughter is at soccer: Go buy flowers for son's class’s garden. Buy OJ. Play with son at playground until soccer is over (do this with my book in hand and manage to read 3 pages). Drive back home.

7pm – 8:20pm: finish cooking dinner. Eat dinner with family. Walk dog again (we don’t have a yard). Tuck son in to bed.

8:20pm – 10:45pm: answer e-mails (including write letter of recommendation, agree to possibly blurb a book, grant permission for staged reading of a play, etc.), look at funny juggling video on YouTube (4 minutes). Help wife find papers for son's summer camp. Think about watching a movie, but update my Tornado Siren web site instead. Check statcounter for my web sites for the 100th time and skim a few blogs by friends. Consider blogging but can’t think of anything. Watch twenty minutes of The Daily Show on line. Dog out for final pee.

10:45-11pm: Read book. Fall asleep on couch.

Okay. Well, I guess that’s why I don’t read as many books as I’d like.

So today, it was rainy and I realized that the third chapter of my new novel is a complete waste of space, and I'm not sure how I want to replace it. Sitting still and noodling is the hardest part of writing for me. Which is why first drafts come easy, because it's just a matter of keeping the fingers moving. Later on, it requires actual thought and finesse. Turns out that P.G. Wodehouse was just what I needed (since plot and humor are something that this third chapter needs a lot more of). So I sat down for an hour or two and finished. It felt good (and Wodehouse is always good for some laughs). Nice work if you can get it, huh?

Here's a fine quote for a cold rainy day:

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he's supposed to be doing at the moment.
Robert Benchley

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