In the first two parts of this mini post I looked at https://established82.com/2015/01/29/choosing-to-read-a-fantasy-series-part-1-peaks-and-troughs/ for the difficulties you find in reading a multi-book fantasy series and https://established82.com/2015/02/24/choosing-a-fantasy-series-part2/ to deal with the pain you feel when it is over. In the last part I am going to look at where I am and where you will be if you have read a series. Nothing is ever the same.
Right now I have a scattered approach to my reading. It seems to be everything now is consumed like Netflix. I jump from one series to another, binge watching or reading on one over a weekend, then dipping in and out of others through the week. Gone is the single-mindedness I possessed when reading The Wheel Of Time. The reason? Nothing else is the same.
Like anything else reading can be an addiction to the susceptible person. For me it certainly is, I go through a period of withdrawal when other distractions enter my mind. I write, I game, I watch mindless and thought-provoking TV, basically I do anything but sit down and read. It’s the same problem you get when you read on an iPad or Kindle Fire. Too many distractions! You read a chapter then, without changing position flick onto twitter or Facebook then flick back. The sense of achievement is still fresh in your mind from when you finished your first big series. The novelty and the drive is gone.
Right now as confirmed by my Goodreads plug-in, I am on book four of the Malazan series, am struggling to finish a few trashier novels and have just started The Dark Tower. It all depends what mood I am in. Unless you are wholly committed to reading and nothing else, you will be the same after finishing your one great series. I can only imagine what problems Game Of Thrones fans have with the downtime between those books, at least they have an excellent TV series to fill the time.
The point I am trying to get to here is that this isn’t a bad thing. Taking a step back gives you perspective and lets you decide what you want to do. As I said during the Wheel Of Time, I struggled through some of the later books. Now when I feel a struggle I just change to something else until I’m back in the mood to finish. This is healthy, you aren’t in school or university anymore, you read for enjoyment. If you aren’t enjoying something, stop doing it. There are no deadlines, so read what you want, watch what you want and do what you want. In the forward for The Dark Tower Stephen King talks about just one day deciding to finish the series. It’s the same with consuming media. Just because I have paused in Malazan doesn’t mean I won’t finish it, it doesn’t mean I don’t like it or rate it. It just means I have something else I’d rather do.
It’s also good advice when it comes to writing. I wrote one book, spent virtually no time promoting it and as such only a few people read it. I immediately though the answer was to write more books. So at this point I have three more on the burner. It’s exactly the same approach. My first was single-minded and driven, now I pick whatever one I feel like putting time into. This can only be a positive as you do your best work when you are motivated. There will no doubt come a time again when I set at something with tunnel-vision but until then I am happy enough to tick along. Only Yesterday I looked at the author list in the front of The Dark Tower in wonder. The number of books in it, some good, some bad made me wonder how King wrote them all. He had to just move about through one genre to another as his mind wandered. It’s one way to look at it, for others their life’s work is one series. It must depend on the individual.
In gaming this term is called ‘min-maxing’ or in English, putting minimum time in to get maximum effect. You see it with professional Starcraft players. They get the maximum result in the shortest time. In my case this would be working out every free hour I had and assigning a task to it – not the best for creativity. Playing games like this is down to competitive play, I’m not competing against anyone watching House of Cards just like I’m not competing against anyone when reading my next book series. I have finally learnt to do what I want.
Reading my first multi-book fantasy series taught me a lot. It changed the way I read and the way I write. There were many struggles, but in the end a book series and the experiences you gain reading one change you fundamentally. Nothing is the same after you finish and for me that was a good thing. I stopped beating myself up with imposed deadlines and just began to enjoy whatever I was doing. All it took was to take a step back.