I loved Stephen King’s book On Writing: Memoirs of the Craft, which is both a guide on writing and an autobiography. I read this when I was eighteen years old, my uncle Steve bought it for me. He made me promise that it would be a worthwhile purchase and that I would apply the knowledge to my writing. I did. At least, I hope I did. I’m contradicting myself.
Something Stephen King wrote in his book really touched my mind. He said:
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
These are some of the most powerful words in regards to my writing career that have ever been spoken to me. I heard them in a sage voice that basically told me, make people happy and make yourself happy, but do it through your writing. There are a number of tidbits of advice like this in “On Writing” that are invaluable to writers. I highly recommend this book to any aspiring writer.
Aside from King’s books, I’d like to talk about the podcast I was listening to this morning. Again, I was listening to the AuthorStrong podcast, Episode 305. The episode is about Critical Reading and a few things hit home with me. First, the inability to read without analyzing story structure, or coming up with ideas for my own writing. Second, that I find myself reading more non-fiction on the nature of writing.
Since my childhood, I have been an avid consumer of literature. From R.L. Stine to Terry Brooks to Stephen King to Jules Verne to David Eddings, I am a voracious reader. Nothing in my life (aside from my family and friends) is as important as books and writing. That being said, it seems that in my writing journey the ability to read for pleasure has taken a turn toward oblivion. I read to learn, I read to spark ideas, but I no longer read for fun. I am curious if this is an issue for all writers, some, or just me.
When I listened to the podcast this morning on the way to the office, I learned I was not alone in this dying down of book consumption. Part of me is glad that I am not alone (misery loves company right?), but there is this part of me that is saddened by this dampening of enthusiasm for reading. To quote Stephen King again:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
With this in mind, I am committing myself to read, at the least, one novel a month for the rest of the year. In times past this might have been something simple, but I am writing more than I’ve ever read these days so baby steps. I’ll keep everyone apprised of my progress because accountability in anything drives action. I am starting March by reading “1,000 Yards” by Mark Dawson. It is a spy novel. I have only ever read the Jason Bourne series, so this is an experiment for me. However, Mark Dawson gives away a few of his books for signing up for his mailing list. Plus he has some amazing information on advertising. Until next time folks.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,