Writers and Reading
It’s time to get serious about reading
I know common sense dictates that a blog about writing would start with…I don’t know…writing. But actual writing is not my first stop on the way to producing a novel. No matter where you look or who you listen to the “experts” agree that to be a writer first you need to be a reader. But what sort of reader are they talking about? I spent years on a first name basis with librarians and the owner of the local used book store and my book shelves are crowded with books. But I’ve actually finished less than half of the novels I picked up. I was a casual reader, someone who didn’t take reading seriously. It was a fun pastime or a means of escape but it didn’t help at all when it comes to producing my own work. And there is my problem.
The most obvious track to mastering the art of compelling and seductive story-telling is to observe how the people who are writing novels do it.
Sounds good on paper but it’s harder than it seems in real life.
There are so many distractions and so much noise in our daily lives – television, texting, facebook, twitter, the whole internet) that it’s hard to carve out time to wright much less to read. I’ve started to dig out time in the evenings to read. Usually at this time I’m vegetating in front of a television or immersed knee deep in the internet. Neither of these activities is productive when it comes to actually writing. So off goes the television and I’m promising to step away from the computer during my reading time.
I won’t just be reading I will be reading critically. As I go through a novel I will be looking at just how the plot is constructed, how conflict and foreshadowing are mixed in. It’s a more difficult sort of reading and a sort that requires active participation with a book. I can’t just enjoy a book anymore I get to enjoy it and tear it apart at the same time. This goes for books I’m enjoying and more importantly for books I am not enjoying. I remember in high school chemistry being told that a failed experiment can teach you as much or more than a successful experiment. I don’t think that reading bad books will be my norm, but if I find a lemon I will finish it and do my best to figure out just what went wrong with it and why I was not happy reading it.
I don’t know just how many books I will get through in the next twelve months. I have high hopes but I am also trying to remain practical. I won’t set an actual goal because I know in two months I will be hopelessly behind and wondering what in the world I was thinking and it’s likely I will take my own reading challenge and shove it to the back of the closet and try to forget about ever making a goal for myself in the first place. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that to happen. I WANT to read as much as possible in a year–and I WANT you to succeed at this goal.
Enough of this blogging I’m firing up my new Kindle and I am ready to read.