I’m a writer, not a mechanic (although the similarities are striking). But I understand what Norman Mailer meant when he said that
It’s too disturbing to read a writer with a good style when you’re in the middle of putting your work together. It’s very much like taking your car apart and having all the pieces on the floor when somebody rides by in a Ferrari. Now, you may hear a note in the Ferrari that isn’t good and say, That motor needs a little tuning. But nonetheless the car is there and yours is on the floor. So while I’m working on a book, I rarely read more than The New York Times.
I haven’t written any lengthy works of fiction before, but I can imagine how reading other books could affect the narrative voice, the characters, even the plot that you’re writing about.
We’re told constantly that to write you must read, but what about reading while you’re working on your writing? How does that change from person to person? How does it change from text to text?
Big questions. Too big for me, right now.
Although I love love love the image of the novel-in-progress as parts on the shop floor; the writer having to use a wrench to tighten their sentences; getting their hands dirty, with ink rather than grease.