Open book, insert nose

These were words my mum once used to describe what is arguably my favourite pastime. Since I haven’t been able to train much this month (as paying for my place at the party left me short) and hot on the heels of World Book Night, I have been catching up on some reading. The project that was taking up so much of ‘me’ also left me short of both time and energy to read (because I was so tired behind the eyes that reading any more than a few pages sent me to sleep, with the exception of the Jasper Fforde book – of course). So this past week has been spent finishing one book and devouring another three. I now have my head firmly in the Discworld and am more than aware that I need to check which of the series are missing from my collection and put that right as swiftly as possible so I can read the rest.

I find Terry Pratchett books so easy to read, partly because they’re so well written but mostly because they’re so unbelievably funny. I can be reading for a while, perfectly quietly, then I’ll come across something so absurd that I can’t help laughing. Very often, this erupts into an uncontrollable fit of giggles that makes my stomach hurt. Even a description of a character trying not to laugh sends me off on one, because everyone (except the most miserable of people) knows what it’s like when you’re trying to keep a straight face.

Now is the time, I feel, to get started on the books I picked up at the library on World Book Night, starting with Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. It’s been a while since I read anything of hers, and it’ll be heavenly to get stuck into such beautiful prose. Even better that the book is long (more than 500 pages), and it’ll keep me occupied for… ooh, a few days, at least. I have so many books waiting to be read but also quite a number I want to read again. I don’t often read books more than once, quite simply because of the number I have yet to get through. But some books are too good to only read once. One I used to read over and over again when I was a teenager was Chartbreak by Gillian Cross (she of The Demon Headmaster fame). Based around a girl who meets a band called Kelp in a service station and sings at the vocalist to prove she can do it better than him, and who then ends up joining the band just as they’re on the cusp of stardom, it’s the ultimate fantasy of a lot of young people, but it also kindled my desire to write about music and meet musicians when I had the chance. It fuelled a fire, if you will, which has burned bright and unquenchable ever since. Next time I go to my mum and dad’s place, I’ll be collecting it and reading it again. It’ll only take an afternoon.

I know I’m not the only person who flicks the pages of books just to smell that unique smell. Old books smell ‘lived in’ and new books smell inviting, but they all have that unmistakable smell of ‘book’, which could never be confused with anything else. Other bookworms know exactly what I’m talking about. Some people think they’re a bit strange for liking this smell and will say so, as if they’re embarrassed about it, as if it’s ‘a bit weird’. Trust me, it’s par for the course if you love books as much as I do and is not weird at all.

In the near future, I shall be reading through Stephen King’s On Writing again, to remind myself that the writing life is far from easy, though it’s some of the best fun you could ever have, even though when it’s hard, it’s not just hard, it’s like pulling teeth. When the characters don’t want to talk, you can either let them get away with it or you can strap them into a chair and force it out of them. Sometimes this results in stilted dialogue, but as soon as I come out with something that doesn’t sound remotely like what my character would say, I know I’ve taken over from them and that’s when it’s time to stop for a while and let them rest (or stew, depending on how you feel about them at the time). The other time to stop is when I start crossing out stuff, not because it makes the pages look messy, but because it means I’m getting tired and my brain can’t keep up.

So for the remainder of this gloomy Sunday, I’m going to do some more work (of the paying variety), then read a bit more, and then when I go to bed, I’ll grab my purple folder and see what happens next.

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