I love being a media consumer. And man, do I consume. If media had calories I'd be in a circus somewhere. I read about 80 books a year (not counting manuscripts I read for critique partners) I binge watch cable shows when they come out on DVD because I won't pay for television, and the number at the bottom of my iTunes library screen is really, really big. And while I fully believe that reading, watching, and listening is only one step behind actually putting your fingers to the keys and writing, there is a downside.
And that downside is that I always know what's going to happen.
I've been told for years that all the stories are exhausted, we're just recasting them in a new mold. When I was younger I didn't believe that, but now I see that's only because I hadn't been exposed to many of the already-manufactured stories in existence. Now that my horizons have expanded I can see it's pretty much the case.
I know. I always know. My brain has devoured so many plot lines, characters, story arcs, and fake conversations that it's almost impossible for me to get the same enjoyment out of books, movies, and TV shows that I could when I was younger. I'm at the disgusting point where I can predict dialogue. The boyfriend and I went to see World War Z (which, coincidentally, I totally enjoyed) and there were three different points where I turned to him and said the next line of dialogue before it happened.
I'm really annoying to go to the movies with, by the way.
There are benefits though - I know what people expect when they're reading my stories, so I veer off somewhere else. I recently met Michael Grant (GONE) at ALA. He blurbed my book for me (I'm still in shock) and when we met he told me one of the things that hooked him was that NOT A DROP TO DRINK surprised him. He said he thought he knew where it was going and then... it didn't. This was one of the happier moments in my life, by the way.
And another up side is that when I'm reading and someone knocks me back - it recently happened with Kate Karyus Quinn's ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE and Stephanie Kuehn's CHARM & STRANGE - I take a hard look at what they did that broke the mold... and then I try to figure out how to do that, in my own way.