What I have found out about myself is that I can either write or read but seldom can I do both on the same day.
Right now I am in a reading phase. In May I was on a panel at a conference and I felt I had to read at least one book by each of the participants. In July I had to do it again. One comes back from these conferences with a pile of new books, some autographed by the authors who attended. Twelve books in two months isn’t all that much reading, but somehow in the middle of it I picked up one of the classics I had not finished when I was in high school. That one was a heavy slog. OK, it is still a heavy slog with about 75 pages to go, a tiny portion of the whole.
The members of my critique group seem to be in the opposite mode and are cranking out bits and pieces they expect me to read. Someone from my first critique group sent me to several thousand word on his latest fiction. I have an inch of single spaced, unpublished manuscripts to read.
During this flurry of reading I have sat at my computer staring at a blank screen, or the first paragraph or page of some languishing piece of fiction. Nothing. Five or six new words, no new ideas.
I know I have to change the beginning of the story that starts with a long interview with a detective before anything interesting happens. I can’t seem to tackle it. I have to come up with the middle section of a short story set on a sheep farm in the early 1800s. I can’t figure out how grandma finds her grandson’s murderer. The more I think about it the fewer ideas I have.
I have one completed and rewritten short story that I sent out to be read. Now I need to make the suggested changes, but I can’t seem to pick it up.
On the other hand, when I am writing up a storm, I read very little. A page or two before I fall asleep at night.
I read in the afternoon but I can write only in the morning. So you would think the two things would fit well together.
The reading phase is easier than the writing phase. But there is something at the back of my mind like the thorn that is stuck in my tee shirt. I can’t find it but it keeps bothering me. I suspect that as soon as I finish the last few pages of Moby Dick I will switch back into writer mode. Then every morning back to the computer for a couple of hours. No more blank screens.