When you know your dog will want to be out and about by six am, reading until three in the morning isn’t smart? Yes, Your Honor, guilty as charged.
Especially since I’d read the book already, therefore, I knew who had died how when where how and why. This was precisely why I was reading Arnaldur Indridason’s novel Etranges rivages – translated in English under the title Strange Shores. For order of presentation of events so that they read as the inevitable next step in what came before, and the next stepping stone toward the writer’s That’s All for Tonight, Folks.
At this point in my own obscure but persistent career as a fiction writer*, I don’t even have to like or admire a published writer’s work to find value in the reading. I’m interested in how the writer keeps me hooked well enough to follow him all the way through. Because of too much emphasis on the “proper” structure of a narrative, in my school days? Because of my inability to sustain the writing of long stretches of description without yawning? Whatever – I tend to zoom in on close-ups of the characters. With time – but slowly – I’m starting to realize potential readers need some clues as to where the characters are and why this matters now in the story.
So, sometimes I read published writers late into the night, knowing full well that meanwhile, the dog slumbers and will be active on all fours by six, at the latest.
*Not approaching literary agents with my work contributes to obscurity? More than likely. I’d rather be figuring out what characters are up to than writing cover letters and synopses? Any day (and every night too).