In a recent post I wrote about my Reading Day, there were two comments that really struck me, comments that propelled me to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time.
The first was from my colleague Colleen Lindsay (and I hope she doesn’t mind me using her name). Colleen said, “One of the reasons I made the decision to leave agenting was that I was losing my love of reading. It can be a big problem when you aren’t really reading for simple enjoyment anymore. For me, it was no longer worth the trade-off.”
I don’t think Colleen is alone in this feeling. I think there are a lot of people who leave agenting or editing because they find it’s taken away from their enjoyment of reading. I know I have a lot of friends who have left over the years and tell me later that one of the best things about leaving is that they now love to read again. It’s sad, and while I get it, I don’t really get it.
Think about it, it happens to many of us when it comes to doing jobs we love. For example, you love to write and there’s nothing you want more than to be a published author, but there is a real possibility that feeling might change when you are strapped to deadlines and doing nothing else but writing. When you “have to” read on a regular basis and you have to read critically, it’s easy to see why the last thing you’d want to do with free time is sit down and read a book. When you have to sit down in that chair every single day and write because others are counting on you there’s a real possibility the joy you feel now from writing might change.
All that being said, another commenter asked, Can you shut it off when reading for fun? And do you have any tips for how to shut off the inner editor when reading?
And this is probably why this job is meant for me. I can shut it off and read for fun at any given moment. There’s no doubt that after so many years in publishing I read differently. I suppose I do read more critically and I know I don’t give books as much time and energy as I used to. In other words, I won’t hesitate to get rid of a book and start something new without finishing the first, but my dream vacation still involves reading a stack of books that has nothing to do with work. Which is kind of funny when you think about it, because every book out there will always have something to do with work.
As for suggestions on how to shut it off: I don’t know that there are any and I think that’s why some decide publishing might not be for them. It’s because they just can’t shut it off.
The great thing for me about taking the time to “read for fun” is that once I do I come back to work with renewed energy and all sorts of new ideas about what I’m looking to represent.