On the importance of reading.
|Too often, I've seen/heard authors saying:|
1) they don't read much because they don't have time
2) they don't read their own genre because they don't want their writing to be influenced, or
3) they don't read any novels because they don't want their writing influenced.
I have three major problems with writers who don't read, or barely ever read:
1) Reading fiction by other authors is a tremendous learning experience -- we see what is done right and what is done wrong and how it all works together or doesn't work. No matter how skilled we may be as writers, there are always many who are better. We need to learn from them just as an apprentice carpenter learns from his master.
eg. One of the things that most bothers me while reading fiction is overuse or bad usage of tags. Therefore, I'm careful when using them myself and I've read tips about using tags, and my work is better for that. I actually don't use them at all, but that's another story.
2) If your own voice and your own stories are not strong enough to be able to hold themselves against possible "influence," I'm not interested in them. Writers need to be influenced. We need to be fluid and take in everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, as well as what other people think about things we might not consider on our own. Otherwise, we get stagnant and our writing will be stale. If other novels are going to create too much influence, so will life in general.
3) I don't want to buy something from anyone who doesn't care enough about the product she is selling to buy it or spend time on it herself. To me, it shows too much disinterest and not enough passion for what she's doing. It also seems rather arrogant for a writer to think she can write a book well enough for me to be worth spending time on if she doesn't have the time or inclination to study her craft.
An author who once says, "I don't read," for whatever reason loses me as an audience immediately. I won't bother to check her work. Yes, it cuts into my writing time when I sit down to read someone else's work, but the lessons I get from it far outweigh any "lost" time. Besides, the only time I'm truly relaxing without having my characters and stories pushing into my thoughts is when I'm reading someone else's work. It's nice to have a break from them occasionally, no matter how much I enjoy their company.