One of the possible drawbacks to being a book editor is that I read manuscripts as a necessary part of my business, which leaves almost no energy, desire, or eye power to read for fun. I borrowed a copy of The Dovekeepers, a fictionalized version of the story of Masada, when 900 Jewish zealots avoided capture and enslavement when attacked by 5,000 Romans on a mountaintop fortress. Alice Hoffman writes beautifully and the story is educational and inspirational, but it took me almost a year to read the book from start to finish, because I could read only a few pages at a time before I grew tired of reading, after having read and edited manuscripts all day long.
Now I’ve picked up a copy of Pat Conroy’s book, The Death of Santini. Conroy has long been one of my all-time favorite writers, yet I have not read all his books, only most of them. His turn of phrase and ability to capture reality makes me long to have his skills as a writer. I hope I can finish this book in less than a year this time, but I can only hope.
Instead of reading for fun, I read unpublished works and look for redundancies, inconsistencies, awkward sentences, questionable events, unclear scenes, unnatural dialogue, repetition, errors in grammar and punctuation, and all the other things that can go wrong when writers write. I envy people who can simply sit in an easy chair and read polished, published books for entertainment.
Ah, but I chose my life as an editor for a reason. Yes, the majority of my reading involves unedited material that I must edit, but at the end of each working day I have a sense of satisfaction that I helped another writer produce a more interesting, more appealing, more marketable book. I love helping writers and enjoy improving manuscripts. As a fringe benefit, I am building good karma.
I can’t have it both ways, though. I’d love to read more for fun, but I have work to do, and I read for a living. Hm. Actually many people would envy me for having that privilege, so who am I to complain?
Okay, forget about it.