I can’t read when I’m writing

Lately I have been so deep into my current project, that not only can I not read fiction, I can’t read much non-fiction, and I can’t even watch movies. Reading — especially fiction — and movies are supposed to take you away from the world for a while. They are deliberate distractions from those thoughts and worries which preoccupy you. They give you a break from work. (Or, if you’re bored, they give you something to help you pass the time.) And they do the job quite well. Which is why I can’t indulge in them while I’m writing.

It used to be that movies were okay, but not so much any more. Many times it’s because I’m not in the mood for that kind of movie, because it conflicts with the mood I’m trying to sustain in my current project.

But many times it’s because I’m more critical of plot — or lack of plot in movies. Walt Disney’s Cinderella, for example, is a great classic, but it lasts an hour and a quarter, with about twenty minutes of actual story. All the extra is a lot of fun, and it’s done well — singing and dancing and foolishness — but it’s not story. It has been added to what would be a short film in order to make it a full-length feature.

And if a movie has a good story, which I might and do enjoy at other times, it conflicts with the story I’m working on, so I can’t watch it. There are a few exceptions I guess.

But mostly I’m not interested in the stories in novels and movies because I’m intensely interested in the one I’m working on now, and I don’t want to be distracted from it. I want to work on it, to focus on it to the exclusion of other stuff. Of course, after a few hours I run out of creative energy. I have to put the project down and find something else to do. Like my day-job of household management.

But just because I’m not actively creating, or developing, or rewriting, or editing, or polishing, that doesn’t mean that I want — or can tolerate — distractions from it. It’s just no longer in the forefront of my mind, and is grinding away, percolating, fermenting, revolving, growing in the back of my head, all unconsciously. Then the next day I bring it out for several hours of good work. If I distract my unconscious from the project, then I have nothing to work with the next day.

But I have discipline, which means I work on my fiction when I’m supposed to, for as long as I’m productive, without distractions. But there are other things which I’m supposed to do, and my discipline applies there too. On Saturdays I have to put the story aside and work on my book site, or my blog, like this one. On Sundays I have to deal with bills, both paper and on-line, and with emails, and with other things which I have put off doing during the week.

But right now, I am so deep into Amanda Valentine, and her growth as a character and as a person, as she seeks to overcome all obstacles, external and internal, to find the Heart of the Fey, that it takes all my discipline this Saturday morning to put the story on hold until Monday.