On Reading (and Writing) a Series of Books

narniaI came across an old blog post this morning in which I admitted that, with 200 pages left to go, I had given up reading The Chronicles of Narnia — at least I had given up on reading it straight through to the end. I was reading the book for my book club, but I still had two weeks until our club met, so I figured I had time to take a break.

700-plus pages of children’s adventures in a magical land might be fun, but not all at once.

To tell the truth, I was ready to put the book aside after the second book in the Chronicles.

The writing is great. I enjoy C.S. Lewis’s voice a lot, actually. It’s easy to read and filled with humor. And it’s not as if I never fantasized about castles and enchanted forests and the like when I was a girl. My childhood fantasy adventures weren’t filled with wars and giants and swordplay, but they weren’t Knight In Shining Armor Rescues Fair Maiden either. I guess they were somewhere in between.

It wasn’t the subject matter that had me setting the book aside. The trouble was, I was bored. Not that the books are boring… It’s just that I think I’d like the books better if I didn’t try to read all seven of them at once. I’m not one of those readers who can pick up an entire series of books and read from first book to last without a break. I never have been. I need variety. This is true of every aspect of my life, which is why I’ve never been happy writing just one kind of book–or one kind of book for several books in a row.

I need to cleanse my palate between one romance and another, one mystery and another. Otherwise, I feel as if I’m repeating myself. This quirk of mine causes me to have trouble putting out more than one book in any series in a year. I’ve learned that either I can write one good book in a series per year, followed by another good book in another series (as long as it’s a different genre) and in a good year, another book.

Sometimes as I look at the careers of my writer friends who have tackled huge series (50 books in this one, 79 books in that one) I feel a twinge of envy. They’re doing well in their careers, and readers seem to love what they’re doing…but that’s just never going to work for me. I’ll probably never read 50 books in the same series, much less write that many.

This isn’t the way I want it to be. I have plans to write several books in several different series over the next few years, and when I look at the reality of the schedule I’ll have to follow, it boggles my mind. Readers have been asking for more books in the Fred Vickery Mystery series. I’m just about to release the first book in a brand-new mystery series, which will mean more books to follow, and I have an idea for a series of connected romance books that has me really excited to write.

And that’s not including all the standalone books I want to write, and the rest of my back list I need to rejuvenate and make available as ebooks. Sometimes I wish I could just put my nose to the grindstone and write one after another–but what you get when I do that isn’t something I’m happy with. I won’t put a book out there for you to read that I don’t feel good about.So for me to try to do it someone else’s way would mean I’d never write anything at all.

I wonder if this means I have commitment issues.

Even the type of book I’m reading (physical type, that is)  has to change to make me happy. A book from my own collection, a book from the library, a book on my Kindle, and so on. One romance, one mystery, one classic, a YA … you get the drift, I’m sure.

Back in the olden days when I worked at another career, I needed variety in my work, too. Nothing made me crazier than to go to work and find the same old thing day after day. Luckily, that didn’t happen very often, so I managed to hang around my last career for 15 years or so.

If you want to make me absolutely nuts, stick me in a room and make me file papers for 8 hours a day, or put me on an assembly line, or give me a straight data-entry job. Any of those jobs would do the trick, no questions asked. I’m just glad there are people who can do those jobs without losing their marbles; otherwise, the world would be a very sorry place, indeed.

I’m just not sure what these things say about me.

Does it make me creative? Or do I just have the attention span of a gnat? I prefer the first explanation. I’d bet money my kids would vote for the second. But this is my blog, not theirs, and they don’t get a vote here. So my choice it is!

Of course, I’m not sure that really fits the current situation. Can I say that I’m too creative to read The Chronicles of Narnia and keep a straight face? Or would it be, perhaps, more accurate to say that I stopped reading because I have the attention span of a gnat?

Hmmmm…. Yep. Too creative. Absolutely!

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