This is her answer:
"When you start writing, you notice the writing in other books. You don’t get to read for pleasure very much anymore. You notice that they repeated a word or phrase within two sentences or you pick up the sly hints/foreshadowing much too easily. For me a great book has become one where the story is so engaging that I don’t notice any of this stuff—that is allows me to read purely for pleasure.[...]"Huh, I went. Because this is so totally f*cking true.
I've noticed, since I started writing seriously (as in, since I quit my job and devoted days and nights on end to learning this craft), that I don't read the same way. Since I learned to read, at around age four, books have been a treasure trove for me. An alternate universe to lose myself in, a source of experience for things I may never have the fortune (or misfortune, depending on genre) to live through myself, a journey into the deeper side of humanity.
And all that is shot to hell now.
Because now, when I pick up a book--and I don't mean just trashy stuff, although I am reading the new Jean M. Auel and... Ok, I'll save that for another post. No, I mean any book. Garcia Marquez. DH Lawrence. Mr. Patterson. Mr. Koontz and Mr. King, my two steady literary love affairs from the beginning of time. Jane Eyre. The Master And Margarita. Good stuff. Stuff that once made the "real" world blur and disappear by the end of page one. Stuff that got me so absorbed, even after several rereadings (I know, I'm weird like that), that my family got used to me being present only in body if I was holding a book.
But now... Oh God. Now I analyze. If it's good--and most of the time it is, especially with these previously named stars of my bookcases--then I notice why it's good. I make notes about how a certain thing was handled, or not handled, or skipped, or not skipped. And if it's bad... Jeez, I'd be the worst possible editor. And my critique group has absolutely had it with me.
I rewrite sentences in my head. I go back and reread--would it sound better like this? Or like that? What would I have done for this scene, for this bit of dialogue?
The pleasure of disappearing that was once reading for me is gone.