So, it's been reading time more than writing time for me lately. We're at the point in the CYBILS competition where those of us who are judging are reading, reading, reading. We're staying up late reading, getting up early reading, reading in the pharmacy line, during comercial breaks of American Idol, and even at extra long stoplights during rush hour. We have a deadline to meet, afterall. And one can hardly "judge" a book without having first spent quality time falling in and walking through it's pages. So, I've been reading some really great books! Check out my blog post from 1/1/08 to see the list of 10 CYBILS fantasy finalists. Then run out and get one or two of them so that you can be one of the first to read them as well!
Meanwhile, as the reading has increased, I have been learning first hand that judging for a literary contest can take a huge chunk out of one's personal writing time. This type of reading is not wasted time, of course -- judging is an honor, and the reading a great joy.
Still, it has caused me to change my writing rythm for several weeks, and I'm learning a lot about juggling; meeting writing and reading deadlines simultaneously.
So, with hot chocolate in one hand, and a CYBILS book beside me on the table, I'm dividing my time between writing a decreased 2000 words/week on my current YA novel (during CYBILS season,) and reading, reading, reading, reading... except, of course, when I'm at my time consuming day job...
And all of this time crunching makes me contemplate one question. Does reading books for a writing competition improve a writer's own writing?
My answer? Of course it does, silly. These finalists wouldn't be where they are today if they hadn't mastered grammar, characterization and plot. So, join me. Let's read some great fantasy and let these writers' techniques sink into our "craft" toolboxes, making our own stories better.