This year when I set a reading goal on GoodReads, I aimed lower than last year. I told myself it was going to be a year of more writing and less reading. I was going to discipline myself to read less because I was under the impression that it was somehow taking away from my creative productivity, that it was just for fun.
In 2017, I read sixty-six books, so for 2018, I set a goal of just fifty-five books.
As July closed, I had read fifty-seven books already this year. Oops! So much for reading less! (insert shrugging girl emoji) I didn't intentionally blow my goal out of the water; there are just so many good books out there, and, well, I want to read them all!
And guess what, a couple of months ago, I stopped feeling guilty about all the reading I do. I stopped seeing reading as an antagonist to writing productivity. All it took was one piece of advice from one of my favorite writers, Jeanne Birdsall (author of The Penderwicks series), to convince me of this.
My academic background is in foreign languages, so I'm very aware of the importance of language immersion for successful acquisition. I studied abroad in Chile in college, and have first-hand experience of how critical immersion is for really being able to get a complete grasp on a language.
All that to preface why Ms. Birdsall's advice hit me like a ton of genius bricks. Her number one piece of advice for writers, when asked by Sarah Mackenzie on the beloved Read Aloud Revival podcast was this:
Ms. Birdsall's advice convinced me that not only is it okay to read voraciously if you want to be a writer, it's a requirement to do so to keep improving. How freeing! Now I see reading as not only a pleasure (which it is), but I also see it as a vital part of my work as a writer.
In the last year and a half alone, I've read seventy YA novels, which I know has been great for immersing me more in the "language" I want to be writing, and hopefully, I'm a better writer for it. (It's also been really fun.)
On May 14th, I finished the first draft of my novel. I've been revising, editing and processing through beta reader feedback since then, and I am now almost ready to start the querying process. And also, I really, really love my story. :)
On a slightly unrelated note, as of this July, I have officially been writing on this blog, in one way or another, for 10 YEARS.
So I just want to say a huge thank you to any of you who have been reading since the early Gidget Goes Home days (hi, Mom!) , and to the rest of you (and maybe you don't even know that that was the original name for my blog!), thank you for joining me along the way somewhere, and for still reading my words.
I may be writing less here on the blog now, but the truth is I'm writing more than ever, and feeling more like I'm doing what I was meant to do than ever before, too, and hopefully someday you'll get to read my words bound up in paper (wouldn't that be amazing??).
Until then, you'll find me with at least one, if not several, books on my person at all times. You never know when you'll have a minute to read!
(Top photo shows my amazing new bookshelves. Special thanks to David for putting them up late one night!!)