One of my writer’s group members puts me to shame because she always has two books on the go. I have spent the last five years trying to master the craft of writing fiction, and there hasn’t there been much reading going on, and it grieves me to say that I can’t remember what the last novel I read was.
Writing my own novel has been my very poor excuse for not reading for far too long. I was confident in the belief that the amount of reading I have done in the past would get me through. Wrong! It is a lame excuse and an insult to those I aspire to be. How dare I think I can wing my way to getting published without doing copious amounts of reading?
Stephen King’s, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, is the most thumbed-through book in my mini-library, I am always referring to it, so I know only too well…
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write..”
I am a disgrace.
I grew up in the non-digital dark ages, a time when there was nothing more entertaining than a darn good book. I loved reading with a passion, especially under my bedclothes with a torch after lights out. I still love books, they surround me, our bookshelves are bursting at the seams, and I keep on buying them, but it seems I have cultivated a bit of a blind spot when it comes to reading novels these days.
I’m a slow reader. My most prolific reading streak came during a two week holiday in The Maldives when I devoured seven books in fourteen days. The book I remember best from that holiday was Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra. Not exactly a holiday read, but a read I will never forget.
My Maldivian reading feat was accomplished before I owned a laptop, iPad or Kindle; all frequent travelling companions these days, not forgetting my iPhone. Living in digital age has changed the way we read. Why weigh yourself down with a bunch of books in your luggage, when you can read them on Kindle or listen to them on audiobooks?
It’s not that I don’t read at all these, I do, but not necessarily what I should be reading to master the craft of writing fiction, and not always in the good old-fashioned way.
These days, thanks to the Internet, it is so easy to tap into a plethora of reading resources. I am constantly quenching my thirst for knowledge browsing the Internet. As long as we read books it doesn’t really matter how you read them, be it on an electronic device or with the book in your hand, or with my lazy reader syndrome, audio. I don’t suppose anybody would like to give me Audible for Christmas?
For now, it’s bye, bye lazy reader syndrome. With one novel finished and one on its way, it’s time to put my laptop down and read.
I hear you Cressida, and I’m taking heed.
EXCERPT FROM A WRITER WHO DOESN’T READ by Cressida Downing
I have no problem with people who don’t read… except for those who are writing themselves. You have no excuse! If you want to write and get your work read, you need to know about the process of reading, about the excitement and fascination a reader can get out of a book, you need to learn about that connection.