Happy Monday, folks! I’m still busy wrapping up Alabama Rain, so my wonderfully amazing, gorgeous, and super-talented author friend, Vania Rheault, was gracious enough to provide a guest post about the importance of reading! (Something I bet most of us wish we did more of!)
Thanks, Vania!! ♥
Stephen King famously said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write.”
And this is true. Even if most writers don’t/can’t abide by this guideline, they still believe it. In one of my writing groups on Facebook, one gentleman actually had the guts to admit he didn’t read.
Of course, he was crucified.
Most writers they will tell you they were voracious readers pretty much from the time they learned to read. Writing soon followed.
Like most writers, I’ve been reading since I was a little kid. I listened to books on tape cassette complete with the magical tinkling letting me know it’s time to turn the page. Cassette? Yes! I just dated myself. Listening to books was one of my most favorite ways to spend an afternoon.
My mother was an avid reader, and I was an only child. She encouraged my love of books mainly to keep me occupied. I grew up in a small town of 8,000 people, and in the country, at that. With few kids in the neighborhood, I had a lot of time on my hands, and my mother was unhappy and spent her time hiding in reading her own books.
That brought me to the library a few times a week, and I read through Nancy Drew, the Babysitters Club, and Sweet Valley High. I graduated to Sweet Dreams books. These were the best because they had KISSING! And I remember getting so red-faced as I read those parts, yet looking forward to it all the while.
Sweet Dreams lead way to Harlequin Silhouettes romances: Temptations, Desires, and Blazes. Those were more graphic, but they didn’t compete with the naughtiness of the VC Andrews books I devoured under my covers with a flashlight. (INCEST?!)
So, I’ve taken you through my reading list from the time I was five to my late teens. Actually, I still read the Silhouettes. I buy them by the stack at the used bookstore for fifty cents apiece. I also read, and still read, Nora Roberts, and I base my own books after her lovable, likable, and relatable characters, real-life plot twists, and happily ever afters.
Even while I was in school—I have a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing—I never lost my love of writing and reading. Some students say they do because they are forced to read books they would never have otherwise, and all the writing they have to do for school assignments steals the love of writing out of them for a while. But for me, school expanded my reading list and introduced me to the greats like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, both of whom I still read today.
But I have to admit, I still don’t read as much as I should, and I’m not in the minority group.
Indie writers have very little free time. We work full-time jobs. We have families. And above all—we write. I know for me, if I have a spare hour, I will work on my own books.
And that is bad.
Reading exposes you to things you need to know if you want to write. Could I have used Nora Roberts as my inspiration if I hadn’t read her most of my life? Reading shows us the tropes in our genres. Popular books tell you what tropes readers like best.
They show how to plot, how to write well-developed characters, how to drop backstory into a plot like cake crumbs leading you to delicious secrets. We learn what readers like in a story, what they don’t like. We learn what makes a character likable, and what makes us hate them.
Even if you don’t think you’re consciously picking up on things as you read, you are.
Once you enter Writer Twitter, it’s easy to start reading only indie, all the time. And that’s not a bad thing. You’re supporting your friends—you’re seeing who is writing what. Why is that book selling? Or maybe more importantly, why isn’t that book selling? Most authors on Writer Twitter will be forthcoming with their numbers. Be careful of those who won’t. They view you as competition and those people aren’t anyone you want to be friends with.
I’m very transparent about my publishing journey, and I expect others to do the same. We’re all in the same boat, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Reading all indie all the time isn’t a good thing, either. Indie quality can leave a lot to be desired and reading above your writing level will help you get better.
I read a lot of non-fiction. I read about the publishing industry, self-editing books, things like that. While this is helpful when it comes to the business side of things, I need to find a balance and read more fiction. Make time for it, you know? I love reading. I never want to wake up one morning and realize I’ve stopped.
As a writer, never stop reading, never stop loving books. Because after all, as a writer, you are writing for people who love reading, too.
Such a wonderfully-written post I’m sure we all relate to—I know I do!
A huge thank you to Vania for contributing to my sanity this week. ♥ Give the lady some love, ya’ll!
Are you a romance fan? Adding Vania’s titles to your TBR (and maybe bumping them to the top of the list, too!) is a great idea—she’s an excellent storyteller.
I’ll see you all soon! (And YOU’LL be seeing Alabama Rain soon!)