Taking Time to Read
Posted by monicamynk
Here’s the first in a list of ten pieces of advice Richard Bausch gives in his “Letter to a Young Writer.”
Read. You must try to know everything that has ever been written that is worth remembering and you must keep up with what your contemporaries are doing. Fitzgerald’s advice to his daughter, Scotty, is as good as any there is on the subject. “You must try to absorb six good authors a year.” This means that you do not read books as an English major is trained to read them. You swallow them. You ingest them. You move on. You do not stop to analyze or think much. You just take them into yourself and go on to the next one. And you read obsessively, too. If you really like something, you read it over and over through the years. Come to know the world’s literature by heart. Every good writer I know or have known began with an insatiable appetite for books – for plundering what is in them, for the nourishment provided there that you can’t get from any other source.
While reading writing help blogs and articles, I continually find advice for a writer to read from the genre they hope to write in. As a new writer, you might not know that, so my suggestion is to look at the top of the New York Times list of bestsellers.That’s where I found my favorite book, Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. The title intrigued me, the story gripped me, and I might have never found it, had I not looked over that list.
I love Bausch’s advice about not stopping to analyze, and just losing yourself in the book.
If you don’t like to read, you should know that when you write, there’s a lot of time spent reading your own work to try to make it better. Write, read, revise. Write, read, revise.
Though I do think it’s important to not stop to analyze, I also believe that analysis at the end is essential. Some have called Stephenie Meyer brilliant; others do not have much nice to say about her writing. No one argues that she doesn’t know how to sell a story.The Twilight series speaks to people in a way that many other books can’t. The same is true for The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, and The 39 Clues. Ask yourself questions, like why there are so many middle-aged people devouring these books that were written for a young adult audience.
Well, off to follow my own advice. Can’t wait to read Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed!