Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why I can't read ANYTHING anymore

I don't read as much as I used to, but the meaning of that has changed recently.

Once upon a  time "as I used to" referred to "pre-kids." I mean, when Coryn was a baby it was easy enough to read while nursing, but when she gained the ability to reach up and grab whatever I was holding, that ended. I would still squeeze in a handful of "non-kid" books a year, and I read to my kids consistently, but I was no longer going through one to two books a week like I had been.

Then more recently, another thing got in the way  of my reading. Writing. Writing is time consuming, but even when you've "finished" the book, you get into editing, rewriting, promoting, and networking and I recently added up the amount of time I've devoted to writing, and if I count it all up, it's at least a part time if not a full time job. Every spare minute I used to have is in some way devoted to one or more aspects of my writing career.

I still do some "reading" but it is mostly unfinished works of other authors I'm swapping critiques with. I'm really fond of short books. If I can finish it in an hour (divided up into fifteen minute segments over the course of several days), I'm all over it.

However, this week at the library I saw this cover:



That guy has a zeppelin. And a top hat. I wanted this book.

I've never actually  read Steampunk before.  I was curious about the style, partially because I had included some Steampunk elements in my  last book (the yet to be released Beggar Magic) and wanted to see what the genre is like. I enjoy the decorative style of Steampunk. I like several TV shows, movies, and games that have that feel, but I'd never actually read a Steampunk book (unless you count the Myst reader. Myst has a definite Steampunk element to it, and while I haven't read the book in years, I remember thinking, "Wow, this is pretty good for a book based off a computer game.").


Myst was actually a major influence in my Beggar Magic writing process.

But back to the original point of this post. I picked up Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders (The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin, Book One) and decided to read it. I'm about half way through, but I'm really enjoying it. The style is what I would call "busy." There is a lot going on in every page, a lot of named characters introduced in a short span, a lot of descriptions of things like clothing that I personally don't care about as a reader, and a world that leaves me with a lot of back story questions I'm hoping will be answered before the end of the book. I'm not sure how much of this is indicative of the style and how much is just this particular author, but he definitely is holding my attention. I'm reading through it pretty quickly, considering my "I get to read fifteen minutes and then have to go deal with stuff" reading method. 

But anyway, the story is set in a post-apocalyptic  California that is covered in ice and ruined cities and seas of poison gas called "mustard." Zeppelins representing various factions or "clans" float over these wastelands and do stuff. Which is really similar to something I scratched out an outline for several years ago and still intend to write some day.

My version is set in a fantasy realm rather than our world. The idea is that a Steampunk society with airships and all sorts of things that run mainly on geothermal energy turns out to be built over a super-volcano of sorts and one day it goes off leaving the majority of the Valley a burnt out wasteland. The story focused on three different characters, two  brothers from the north end of the Valley, airship captains, the area which received the least damage from the eruption, and an engineer/scientist who was one of the few people who tried to warn others about  impending doom who was out of the Valley on the southern plains during the eruptions. The brothers, one of whom loses his wife in the blast, go separate ways in search of survivors to rescue while the engineer runs into a spoiled young nobleman who was on a hunting party/safari in the plains with his entourage when the  eruption occurred. All three groups try to gather survivors and put as much of their world back together as they can, and the original plan was a series that followed these families through at least two generations as they deal with things like pirates and scavengers gaining a foothold in the ruins, trying to control resources and just survive. 

Since I write fantasy, there was also a magical element where there was a certain sort of a rock within the ground that "fire weavers" could draw upon to upon this to do certain forms of elemental magic. However, they also develop a sensitivity to this substance that can drive them mad with over exposure or send them into withdrawals if deprived of it for any given time. 

My version is sufficiently different from this book I'm reading, so I'm not worried about plagiarism or anything like that, but dang! I want to write MY Steampunk survival adventure story now. 

I'm going to push on and read this book and save my story for another day, but this happens every  time I read a good book. I get stuck on "my" version of the setting or story or something. It is worse if it is a genre or setting I like to write or had already planned to write, but even if it isn't, I keep coming up with new ideas.

Oh well.

At least I'm reading again.




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2 comments:

  1. Now that I have adult children I am able to spare time for reading.
    My claim to fame is that I taught them to read.
    One still enjoys reading, another scores high on written work in college.
    There's a lot to be said for reading.
    I like some fantasy works and I think I would like this.
    Thank you for the review.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, it feels like I finally accomplished something, getting through a book this week. I've been reading shorter and shorter books and this one was decently long

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