Yesterday, Caitlin Kiernan posted an interesting entry on the pitfalls of reading as a publishing professional. In particular, the following passage resonated with me:
Basically, I wish I could read the way I used to read. I did not dissect as I read. I simply became immersed in the story and let it sweep me happily along. Now I cannot help but dissect. I try not to, but I do anyway.
She was looking at it from the writer’s point of view, but I must admit running into similar issues myself as an agent. I clearly remember long afternoons on my college campus spent lost in other worlds being created for me by novels I still recall very fondly. Some of which I can’t read the same way anymore because that voice in my head that is always sizing up the story won’t be quiet. It still does happen — I recently read a client manuscript in which I became so immersed that I stayed up until well past my bedtime and forgot to take notes. But it comes ever so rarely now. It’s not that critical reading can’t be enjoyed for its own worth, but anything on submission from someone new that accomplished the level of that old sense of wonder would get an offer of representation in a nanosecond.