I suppose it was inevitable. You spend so much time learning a craft, refining, expanding, that at some point you must look for new and stronger teachers.
In my case, I've gone from my fledgling words, to on-line forums, to an in-life writing class (or two or three), to tentative chapter swaps, to full novel critiques, to beta reads from strangers and students. Years of this, in case you're wondering.
Then my book sold and I started working with my lovely editor. I hit the first round of revision with only a trowel. It was the wrong tool. I needed a full fledged shovel. I'm still in it. Digging, patching, replanting, but I'm finally getting to the place where the yard is less of a riddled dirtfest and more of a hint of a future show piece (or at least something the neighbors won't phone with complaints about.)
And the oddest thing has happened. I've lost the ability to simply read. Every book I pick up, I now, consciously or subconsciously, dissect. In the case of a recent crime thriller, much lauded with splashy blurbs from media outlets tucked into a glossy frontispiece, I noted the kudos to the tricky plot. I figured out who dunnit the second time I met the killer. Is it because I'm "oh so smart?" No. I just recognized the tiny hints an author might put so when you get to the end you're not left saying "no way, there was nothing."
I've purposefully read looking for transition words. My characters tend to look and smile and glance and raise eyebrows and shrug and nod. As I've spent so many hours now between my pages, they're all looking funny to me. (see, I just used looking, how many times have I used looking, what should I use in its place, should I say appearing, or seeming, or GAH.....anyway, you get it.) It helps at times to see every author has their characters moving and talking and gesturing.
You might be thinking, "wow, bummer for you, no relaxing beach reads or getting lost in other worlds." Believe me, I've had the same thought. But my hope is, like taking a great class when you need it, this reader dissector I've become is only here temporarily soaking up what she needs from this teacher. While I need her. While I'm learning. Because once I'm back to a first draft.....baby, I got that. Bring on the gestures.
Do you ever find yourself reading as a writer?