You should read outside your comfort zone, shouldn’t you? Hmm, has been my usual answer to that, not me! I (like lots of other people!) don’t like going outside my comfort zone.
But I accidentally did just that. I’m working on a YA novel with a half-French heroine and was lucky enough to be on a writing retreat in France. The little place I had all to myself for writing was called Mon Rêve and it really was a dream - see pic.
So far so good. One day I was wandering around a French supermarket (so strangely different to a British one) and saw they had a large selection of French teen novels. I paged through a few. I used to be able to read French, but these looked difficult. Then I found one that was a mixture of words and pictures. Much better! I bought it, partly for fun and partly for research.
|The book I ended up reading - almost every word ...|
And I found that it was a) much harder than I had expected. French teenagers clearly use an awful lot of slang! There were words I’d never heard of, and then words I had heard of but they were being used in a peculiar new way. Oh dear. And then, amazingly, I found that, b), by pushing myself to read it, dictionary at my side, I was getting into the head of a French teenager in a way that I couldn’t have done otherwise. I was reading outside my comfort zone!
Of course, what I was reading was the writer’s take on French teenagers, but it gave me something that I couldn’t have got any other way – a French view on a French teenager. And after a while, it even started to be fun. For anyone who is reasonably fluent in French I’d recommend giving the book a try. It's interesting and funny and engaging. It’s Toi + moi + tous les autres, Tome 1 : #MesAmisMesAmours* by Sylvaine Jaoui. As it is not (yet?) translated into English, this is your only way of reading it.
Now I want to make myself continue with this reading outside my comfort zone, although the suggestion from my fellow writing-retreater that I give horror a try might just be a step too far … Does anyone have any less scary suggestions?
*You + me + all the others, Volume 1: #MyFriendsMyLoves