Last week I spent three days at the London Book Fair and two days working on a project in a day-job setting. In between, I kept up on marketing and promos for the book, my charity social media posts, regular social media posts, and tried to keep up on my work in progress, the next book in the Watermarked world. I was exhausted by Friday night, feeling like I still had so much to do and many errands to run to take me through the weekend. And truth be told, I did.
But…I had a treat waiting on my bedside table: an ARC of Laura Laasko’s Echo Murder. Also, at the Fair I got another book I have been looking forward to: Helen Kitson’s The Last Words of Madeline Anderson. Queued up on my iPad is V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic (book club pick I’ve been enjoying), Gwenda Bond’s Suspicious Minds (a Stranger Things prequel) and Helen Bell’s Restoring the Light (rereading the series in prep for book 4 coming soon). I still have a pile of books on the nightstand and waiting on my Kindle, of course, but these are first.
You guys, I was—I am so excited.
I mean, I read every day—it’s the only way I can wind down to sleep—but there is something so exhilarating and rewarding about knowing you are going to carve out time in the schedule just to read. It feels indulgent, and yet it is so necessary. Not just for the ‘down time’ that reading provides, but in order to do all the other things I need to do—including write my next book.
When I first moved to French-speaking Switzerland, I was determined to become fluent. I used children’s books to help with vocabulary (Richard Scarry’s are the best). I wanted to get to the point that I could read any book in French, and I felt I needed to focus on that so I didn’t read in English. Then an English-speaking friend gave me a novel that she had liked, and I caved. I ripped through that paperback so fast and discovered something amazing. It made my French better.
Reading exercises my brain. It rests my mind. It takes me on adventures, makes me think, and loosens the creative spark inside me. It isn’t ‘just’ a hobby. It is essential. In the same way I needed to read my own language to level up in learning a new language, I need to read books to help me write better. When a book is great, it’s spellbinding and inciting at the same time. It wraps me up and frees me in equal measure. Immersing in someone else’s imagination helps open the door to mine. It is a key.
Therefore, I give myself permission to read. I need this time for myself to help me remember what I love about writing and get me ready for the next chapter, so to speak. And now, I guess I better get on with it…