Writers Who Don’t Read

are like chefs who don’t eat.

Seven years ago I started what I consider my ‘writing journey’. It wasn’t that I hadn’t put my pen to paper before then, but I hadn’t done so with the intention of letting others read it before. This quintessential moment was me shakily signing up for my first Creative Writing class.

That first day is still vivid in my mind. I remember what I wore. I remember the other students. I can replay the memory in my head like film.

My creative writing teacher was barely taller than myself. He wore dark green slacks hemmed up with silver pins. He was middle aged and well spoken. He was…demure. Yet he instructed his class with a constructive and supportive atmosphere that I could immerse myself in.

His first order of business was to have us all arrange our seats into a circle. His second was to ask us to introduce ourselves and what we were currently reading. There was a little bit of stirring but after a while we went around our little circle doing just that.

It was a really neat bonding experience. Well, it was until that one guy went and screwed it up. The entire time people were introducing themselves he was sitting there in these black jeans and dark red turtleneck with his arms crossed over his very thin chest. He hadn’t really reacted to…well…anything.

When it got to him he introduced himself and stated, quite clearly, “I don’t read.”

I blinked. I wasn’t the only one. A couple of students exchanged looks and there was even a sort of surprised chuckle from a few of us.

The teacher nodded, “Alright, why not?”

“Because I don’t have to.”

The teacher didn’t ask him to elaborate. He nodded and accepted it and moved on. But the moment really stuck with me. How utterly confident must a writer be to assume he doesn’t have to read and where can I feel even a fraction of that?

But here’s my issue. I don’t care how good a person is at their craft. If they aren’t looking at the works of others then they suffer from the creative equivalent of sniffing their own farts. They are never going to grow, change, or be inspired.

It’s because of this mentality that I feel my book reviews are a pretty big part of my writing blog. Because it’s not just about the words I put on the page, it’s about the words that I am reading. It’s about what is inspiring me.

So, to all my writers out there, pick up a damn book.

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11 thoughts on “Writers Who Don’t Read

  1. I absolutely agree. I’m not saying that an author can’t be inspired by other things. I can be inspired by a painting, or great food, or a person walking down the street. But there is nothing that will feed the soul/imagination/whatever you want to call it like a book.

    Like

  2. I completely agree! When I decided to really commit myself to becoming a writer, the first thing I did was make a really long reading list. My writing journey has definitely been more reading than writing, but I feel like I become a better writer with every book I read. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh hun…do I ever… Currently, I would recommend:

      Science-fiction: Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi (or the Old Man’s War series…also amazing)

      Romance: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

      Urban Fantasy: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

      YA: Prudence: The Custard Protocol by Gail Carriger

      Fantasy: Feast of Souls by C. S. Friedman

      Mystery/Thriller/Crime: Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

      Anthology: The Best American Noir of the century, multiple authors, edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow…

    I’m glad the teacher didn’t press for elaboration, because with an ego like that the guy probably would have enjoyed talking more about himself. Kudos to the teacher for not letting him!

    The statement is blatantly false. Every author needs to read. But even more than that, wouldn’t you as an author WANT to read?? Because an author, more than anyone else, appreciates stories! Isn’t a love of books what made all of us authors want to write?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would think so! I mean, I can remember the magical moment when I realized books didn’t just poof on the shelves. I found out that people wrote them, for like a job, I was mesmerized.

      And while I can’t say that being an author has been my desperate desire every moment of my life (At one point in time I was going to be a space princess) it has always been the things that kept me dreaming, and I think that’s very important.

      Liked by 1 person

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