I grew up in a bookless household, I never saw anyone reading, I was never read bedtime stories, and the only books we possessed were mine, given as birthday and Christmas presents.
So how come I grew up loving books and reading. Devouring words, living the lives of the people between the pages. What makes a particular book so memorable that I keep it on a shelf waiting to be re-read again and again.
Last month I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month, known affectionately as NaNoWriMo. It was brought to my attention by Flighty over at his blog Sofa Flying, before reading his post I had no idea that it existed. The concept is simple you simply have to write a rough draft of a book during the month of November, of no less than 50,000 words, submit it for a word count on or before midnight 30th November. There are no prizes - it is simply to push you into writing.
So I took on this challenge, not realising just how hard it was going to be. There is a world of difference between reading a book and writing a book. I got to thinking about what makes a good book in my opinion. What was special about the books I had kept to make me want to re-read them.
Then I came across this passage from the writer George R.R. Martin,
'For me the journey is what matters, not how quickly one can get to the final destination. When I read, as when I travel, I want to see the sights, smell the flowers, and, yes, taste the food. When a reader puts down one of my novels I want him to remember the events of the book as if he had lived them. And the way to do that is with sensory detail.'
Suddenly it all made sense, the writers of my favourite books had me involved in the journey from beginning to end.
So, how has this affected the writing of my own novel. It has affected me quite considerably - I would like to rip up everything I have written and start again - but I can't, the time constraints won't let me. But when the month is over, I will begin again, keeping the bare bones of the story the same but trying to bring it alive for the reader.
Quite a challenge; now when I read I look at the structure, how the author leads from one thing to another, how they have lead me into their world. Reading will never be the same again. Nor will writing, come to that.