Posted by: Trisha Leigh | July 18, 2011

My Brain Doesn’t Work That Way

Brains are strange things. I often wake up with this knowledge reaffirmed after nights full of strange and truly disturbing dreams. Like the time I had a recurring dream that I was hanging out with the Twilight cast in the Bronze (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Or why every time I dream about my ex-boyfriend his wife always makes an ill-timed appearance.

See what I mean? You’re probably already sorry I let you inside my cranium. I don’t blame you. It’s rough in there.

Even when I’m conscious and have some modicum of control, there’s things I can’t make it do. Listen to music while I write. Stop a task in the middle and move onto something else. Fall asleep while something is on television that I haven’t watched a million times previously. Stop picking the skin off my lips while I read. Not flail like an idiot at the sight of a bee/wasp/whatever with a stinger.

And I cannot read a new book while I’m drafting a new book.

I have, quite literally, piles of books from B.E.A., along with more books gathering dust on my shelves that I’m dying to read. The thing is, new projects are fragile things. Voices are forming on the page, getting stronger some days and playing hide-and-seek on others. Twisting plot paths are waiting to be discovered and placed in the correct order. These stories aren’t real yet, they aren’t substantial, and they can still be affected by the “real” world.

I find that if I read another author (particularly one who has crafted a particularly strong voice) that it finds its way into my manuscript even if it doesn’t belong there. For example, I was rewriting one of my novels, Heartstrings, when Demonglass (by Rachel Hawkins) released. As an avid fan of the first book in the series, Hex Hall, I simply couldn’t wait. The thing about Rachel’s books is this – her main character Sophie is sarcastic and hilarious and cheeky and one of my favorite YA heroine’s of recent memory. (I’m not plugging her books on purpose, it’s just the truth.) The main character in Heartstrings, Elora, is not funny at all. She’s quite the serious girl, but there are a couple of chapters in the middle of the book where she sprouts a sarcastic sense of humor.

Sophie, that little rascal, had slipped out of her story and into mine. She’d bled onto my page, into my character. My brain can’t handle it.

Which really, really sucks right now because Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is at the top of my pile, and damn. I am dying to read it.

What about you, fellow authors? Can you read while you write? While you revise? Do you pick up voice like I do, or does another piece of the puzzle worm its way in?

I’d love to hear about your issues, if you have them, so I feel more normal. If you have no issues, you should lie to make me feel better about myself. That is a fine quality in blog readers.

Just kidding.

Oh, and I nearly forgot. The random number generator picked KARI LYNN DELL as the winner of Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. Send me your mailing address and Denise will get you a signed copy!

I loved everyone’s first kiss stories, and make sure you download the book for your Kindles or Nooks, because you’re going to love it.

What I’m watching right this minute: Not a darn thing. Although I can watch television while drafting. In fact, I can’t write without it.



  1. I can’t read a new book when I’m drafting, either, mainly because the book I’m writing keeps humming in the background of my head when I’m not actively working on it, getting louder and louder until I give it my complete attention. (Yes, my WIPs are the literary equivalents of 2-year-olds.)

    • Somehow not one part of this comment surprises me ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I love that you know this about yourself. Me? I’m still trying new things. I hear people talk about character play lists and try it or reading outside my genre while revising a scene and try it… I’m like “Mikey” from the old Life Cereal commercials. I’ll try anything!

    Hmm. Seems I CAN read while I write. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Well, now you know that about YOURself, so yay! Keep trying until you figure out what works, I say.

  3. I admit I don’t worry about this intruding voice problem. In first drafts, my voice is all over the place anyway. In revisions, I figure I can distill out any chuft and flotsam I pick up from reading during drafting.

    Not reading is too hard for me.

    • It is hard for me to be not reading. I do have the second Game of Thrones book on my Nook, and I think there’s a very small chance any of that will make its way into my historical.

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