“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
 -Stephen King, On Writing, pg. 139

I am a writer but I’m also a reader. I’ve always thought these two things went hand in hand, and they do, for some people. But others think that writing would survive without reading, or vice versa. I hate to break it to you, but writing and reading are Siamese twins. And not the kind that can be separated, either. They are connected by a lung. Or a brain. Or a  heart. Writers need readers and readers need writers and if you happen to be both, you fuel two fires that have the same heart. Or brain. Or lung.

Reading can do many things for writing. There are the obvious advantages of improved grammar, expanded vocabulary, and all the stuff you should have learned in English class when you weren’t paying attention. For example, I read so much that it is second nature to me to correctly format dialogue.
 “This is how one speaks in a story,” she corrected sullenly. “really you don’t do this”? asked the student, and the narrator restrained herself from throttling him.

But the biggest advantage, in my opinion, that your writing gets from books is style. I mean, you can’t just write. You have to write with style. Some writers write in thick, swampy paragraphs that take some serious wading through, and some re-readings. Some write in rich chunks of prose. Others write the skeleton of the story with little embellishment and leave it there, a spare and under-furnished room. I personally don’t know my particular style. Every time a read a good book- and I mean good- it leaves an imprint on me for a week or so, and my writing begins to mimic that author a bit. It’s like the glimmer of color when you close your eyes after looking at a bright light. It lingers, and fades, but it gives you a brief burst of productivity in which you write and create. It doesn’t matter if you sound a little like J.K. Rowling or John Irving for a while, because eventually you will find that perfect blend of every author you have ever loved that is completely yours.

You also get something from reading that helps you live. You truly experience things you may never get to see, hear, smell, touch, taste in real life. My first love was undoubtedly in a book, I can’t exactly remember who. I’ve never known anyone who died...except for Dumbledore, Prim, Hassan, Westley (sort of), and countless others. Why do you think books have the power to make us cry? To make us doubt the world or trust someone? Because we live in them and learn from them.

Now enough with the introduction. I hate introductions to books, especially those that give away the ending in order to praise the author’s command of suspense in the final scene, or the way the last battle resembles a particular WWII battle. I have honestly read a book that contained an introduction, a forward, AND a preface. However, it did not have a prologue.

Anyway. I’m getting off track. What I meant to say is that if you don’t like reading, or love books, or have even read anything longer than Encyclopedia Brown, then this blog isn’t for you. Sorry. I’m a book nerd, and what follows is the gleeful account of exactly how much I think about words, books and stories.



Leave a Reply