Saturday, September 29, 2012

So Many Books – So Little Time…

By Glenys O'Connell @GlenysOConnell

It might sound obvious, but readers and writers have a lot in common.
For example, if you’re like me, going into a real bricks and mortar bookstore is like the proverbial kid and the candy store. Ditto for browsing Amazon, B & N, etc. So many books, so little time.

You start out with a plan to buy maybe one, or two….and suddenly, your basket is full of tasty delights. You get a sweet little flavour boost by reading the back cover blurbs, your taste buds sing the Hallelujah chorus as you dip through the pages at random.

Then reality hits. You can only read and really savor one book at a time (at least, I can). Your To Be Read pile already competes with Mt. St. Helens – and may also be ready to erupt all over your bedroom floor. Your book budget (if you actually had one) is already shot. Your friends, neighbours, significant other, are all going to roll their eyes when they see you sneaking in the back door with your books. True addicts actually change from the bookstore bag to a grocery bag in an attempt to hide their addiction. On your credit card statement, you have the bookstore’s bills hidden under the ‘household’ or ‘car maintenance’ tags. 
You realise you can’t take all the books in your basket. But having to choose is likely to send you into Post Traumatic Shock.  Eventually, you choose one or two books and, tears in your eyes, you put the rest back on the shelves, whispering a sad farewell and promising to come back soon.

For writers, the scenario is the same, but we’re dealing with embryo books – ideas that have snuck into our consciousness and refuse to go away. Most of us have a file marked ‘Book Ideas’. It’s really the only way to silence the clamor for a few weeks while we finish the book we’re working on. But writing The End on one manuscript is like opening the floodgates – all those half-baked, half-formed ideas in Book Ideas now scream for attention. Write me! Write Me!
Which to Choose? Which to Choose?

Often I will start out on one idea, only to realise my Muse, or subconscious mind, needs more time to work on it, then I have to close that file and look for another candidate. Many of the book ideas consist only of a paragraph or two, a signpost towards greater creative effort. Some are several pages, others just a couple of links to news stories or bits of research I've discovered on the web which seem to be crying out for a novel plot. Some will never make it as viable books alone – but joined in matrimony with another book idea, suddenly there’s hope of a long and happy relationship.
The biggest problem of all, rather like deciding which books to take to the checkout and which to leave behind,  is keeping all those other ideas in line while you concentrate on the work-in-progress. My personal scheme is to accept that every now and again I’ll think of a scene, a dialogue line, or see an article, hear a bit of gossip, that will fit one of those story ideas. I open the file, type in the info, maybe add a bit, then firmly close the file before falling into the trap of starting to actually write the book.

Otherwise, I’d have a hundred works-in-progress – none of them ever finished.

So, I’d love to hear how other readers and writers choose which books to buy, which books to write!

There’s a copy of my very first novel, Judgement By Fire, waiting for one lucky commenter.
A print copy of Winters & Somers, my Irish romantic comedy/suspense: Lisa Rayns
Lisa, please email me at glenysoconnell at msn. com with your email addy  and home address for the print. Thanks for taking part!


Glenys O’Connell is busy with edits for her upcoming release: Saving Maggie, a romantic suspense with paranormal elements, just contracted by Crimson Romance! You can keep up with her news & articles at


Margo Hoornstra said...

You do a good job of articulating a problem, or I should say problems we all have. Whatever should we read and whatever should we write? Great dilemmas to have.

Jannine Gallant said...

My bad! I've started writing several books, then decided that another story needed to be told RIGHT NOW. So, I put the first one on the back burner and begin the next one. In time, I'll get back to all those half written books. But time is scarce! The answer is obviously more will power. Good for you for having more than me, Glenys!

glenys said...

You're so right, Marg - think how aweful it would be if there were no books, and no book ideas, waiting for us? Better a feast than na famine, yes?

glenys said...

LOL - Jannine - I wish I did have more willpower! Or is it 'won't power'? Show me chocolate or a new book, or another book idea, and my willpower vanishes!

Karyn Good said...

What a great post, Glenys! I'm meeting someone for coffee in a bookstore this afternoon. I'll be tempted to scoop up a few books. As for ideas, my system is a lot like yours. I have my main wip and files on others and if something comes to me I jot it down and get the heck out of there but it takes over :D

Susan Macatee said...

Since purchasing my Nook, I've moved from going to the bookstore to browsing online, but with only limited time to read, I choose my books from blog posts or my publisher's website that intrigue me. And since I earn B&N gift cards just by using my credit card, I can purchase those books for my Nook for free.

As far as reading, I was just picking out which ones I wanted to read first, but some of those books have been on my Nook for so long, I've decided to go back and read some of the older ones first.

As far as writing, I'm in the process of picking minor characters from my published novels and novellas and giving them their own story. So far, I've got one coming out in December and just finished the first draft for the second one. Don't know yet where I'll go from there once its finished.

Maddy said...

I think there's a lot of frustrated energy in having several projects and ideas running concurrently, so I try and focus on the main task but keep notes and post-its for on-going themes so that when the opportunity arises, I can move those up the priority ladder.

LisaRayns said...

I was going to comment on how I chose which books to write, whichever one ate at me the most and then I saw the last part of the post and got too excited. Thank you, Glenys!

glenys said...

Karyn - Ha! The magic words: Get Right Out Of There! That's where the willpower comes in, because it's sooo tempting to stay and just jot down a little more, right??

glenys said...

Susan - another willpower example: just downloading the books that really appeal and/or are recommended by others. We're on a roll here! I have to confess that my Kindle is overflowing with downloaded books, some purchased, many free, that haven't been read (and some that never will). I have to learn to be more selective - and where the heck is the Kindle delete button???
Here's wishing you much success with the new stories involving your secondary characters. Great idea, by the way!

glenys said...

Maddy - yes, a lot of energy is sapped by having too many projects on the go, mostly because in the back of your mind you're thinking 'I should be working on X' while you're trying to work on the current wip. Your system sounds very organised!

glenys said...

Lisa - glad you got in touch, I did send you a Tweet because I couldn't find an email addy for you. Will be sending Winters & Somers, your giveaway book from the earlier post this month, to you later this week!And thanks for the smile in your post!