"All Good Writers Read." When?!
Posted on July 28th, 2012

So my post title is a variation on a quote I see all over the place in regards to writing. While I agree that in order to understand the craft one must be immersed in it and in regards to writing, reading allows one to see the elements of story, creativity, voice, and where authors pass and fail (in one’s own opinion) overall. It also allows the reader to potentially learn something new as not all reading is fiction, but for the sake of this post I’m focusing mainly on fiction.

The two problems I have with this are time and my own history with reading. The first problem of time is fairly obvious. As I work forty hours a week, have a wife, a dog, and am actively trying to write my own first novel I struggle to have free time to spend reading book after book. Yes, I’d like to read more, but part of my frustration is that it takes me so long to read a book and I’ll admit it is so much easier to finish an episode of a show or watch a two hour movie than it is to see to the end of a book—and I’m an all or nothing type of person. Being all or nothing in regards to reading is that I like to get into the world of the book and not leave until the adventure is over and with time constraints and not being a speed reader this can be tough. Thinking about the last major book I read, ‘The Hunger Games’, I was sucked in and while it took me several weeks to read, the reading mainly took place in large chunks, I owe most of that intrigue to Suzanne Collins who created a beautifully paced story that forced you to want to keep reading. For most books though, I usually focus on getting through a chapter here and there, but when those “here’s and there’s” are spread too far, I feel lost and disconnected from the book. Now, with my writing more active I’ve become more picky in my novel selection and if I’m just not feeling it after the first few chapters it goes back to the library, which doesn’t help in my quest to be a good little writer who reads.

So what’s my solution? Well, I’ve already conceded to the fact that if I ever make it in the writing world that I will be the black sheep of the literary community as I will not have paid my dues in being well read as reading was never heavily encouraged in my youth, but I have fallen back on a familiar friend from my youth—comic books. As far back as I can remember, my memory of being read to (which is where I think reading starts for kids) conjures up bad memories that I won’t go into, but nonetheless I think set part of the stage of what would be my disinterest in reading as a kid. Along with other family related issues, I think my childhood mind concluded that the best “escape” for me was within my own head and imagination rather than books. This is not to say that those who read don’t have great imaginations, but just saying that this was me. Despite this, two of my biggest interests growing up were art and superheroes and comic books was the best of both worlds and when I could, I read them. So yes, I didn’t read all the classics and somehow with the help of Spark/Cliff Notes I got through advanced high school English, but I read… just probably not enough and not the right things to punch my ticket of acceptance into the writer world.

So what comic books am I reading? Well, they’re actually graphic novels which are sometimes a collection of comics rather than individual comics themselves as I’ve been so far removed from the comic book world I wouldn’t know where to start (classic heroes have died, come back to life, died again, turned gay, gotten married, or there are totally new characters). For me, the beauty I’ve found in graphic novels is that I can grab a story, READ it, finish it, and move on in short time while at the same time satisfying my brain style of being a visual learner/observer. Now if I was writing the next great literary masterpiece that would change the world and be read for generations in classrooms then yeah, this is not good, but considering I’m writing to bring fun YA stories to world, I think I can punch my “reading” card with graphic novels for the time being.

Will some still argue that I still have no business writing or being published? Probably so, but I’m doing it anyway because I have a story to tell or stories rather and while I’m learning and taking my licks along the way I don’t think anything should stop anyone from doing what they want to do in this life (outside of the crazy and malicious). It’s a long hard road and probably harder because of what I haven’t done, but the past is over and I can’t change it. All I can do now is fight on and keep learning as I go.

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