My reading arc has been through many phases over the decades. Plenty of fiction - I look for quality of writing and originality of voice. Favourites from over the years that pop into mind include James Salter, Jonathan Lethem, Hilary Thayer Hamman, Tom Perrotta, Louise Erdrich, Lorrie Moore, Carlos Castaneda, Andre Dubus III, David Sedaris, Raymond Chandler and Haruki Murakami. Even writing the names of these writers ignites my passion! Some of their writings are so fucking awesome, so powerful, so eloquent that I get emotional just thinking about it.
What is it about reading great stuff that moves us so much? I think it's the fact that someone not only has talent and imagination but they exert the effort and spend the time to truly form their tales into the best possible presentation they can. Writers care. Writers are devoted and serious about what they do. They are on a mission to inspire, inform, elevate. And the best ones, like those mentioned above, do all three. It's such an admirable pursuit. The rewards are hard earned. The greatest reward, I am certain, is the sense of accomplishment, completion. Sure, a writer will be happy about sales, encouraged by good reviews and reader responses but they do not bring any deep satisfaction. Validation is positive and certainly encouraging but it's not tantamount to the satisfaction that comes from the realisation of a dream, a vision, an idea, a fantasy.
Having said that, from my own experience, once a story or a screenplay, a book, is completed, it is not long after that one gets itchy to commence the new thing - usually more ambitious than the last. There's nothing glamorous about writing. It is a solitary pursuit. You are wandering through a great unknown, one for which their is no map - and you have to trust your instincts, believe that your innate prowess will see you through.
The image of a writer, from the outside, is so romanticised. It is so far from the truth. Anyone who writes regularly and with dedication will tell you: it is hard work, often thankless. There is no applause, no pats on the back, no huge financial reward or incentive. It's just you and your mind, firing away: chugging, ploughing, climbing, chasing, wandering, grasping, hoping... for a result that will quell the compulsion, calm the self imposed demands. You start something, you have to finish it. One word at a time. Thoughts in order. Descriptions on target. Characters alive. Meaning implied or clearly stated must be accurate and precise.