You are what you read; A Steampunk Perspective

Read by Doctor Steel

As sayings go, “You are what you eat” is accurate. However, I would argue that every book you read also changes you, so that you are what you read. You can’t help but be changed, particularly if you are one of those people who ‘live’ a book (like me).

The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read. – Terry Pratchett

This is an excellent reason for reading, well, just about everything! Don’t read just in your genre. Read textbooks. Read romances. Read newspapers and magazines (even the ones you would never pick up normally). Read Literary award winners. Read graphic novels and most certainly read comics. You will learn so many new things by reading outside your genre, and not just facts. You will see different ways of storytelling and discover new tools for your writer’s toolbox. You will be feeding your muse with plenty of inspiration.

Read inside your genre. Try new authors. Read books that relate to your genre; in my case, anything and everything to do with the Victorian era, and everything to do with science. You will learn how to see the structures and themes that underlie your genre, and how to avoid the clichés and stereotypes of your genres (or you can always turn them on their heads). You will be feeding your muse with plenty of inspiration.

As a writer, feeding your muse is just as important as sitting at your desk and writing. A writer has to be a hungry omnivore of reading matter. And don’t just limit yourself to reading hard copy, as there are plenty of famous short stories and books available for free on the Internet.


Filed under Steampunk, Steampunk Genre, writing

9 responses to “You are what you read; A Steampunk Perspective

  1. karen j carlisle

    Reblogged this on Karen J Carlisle.

  2. Weirdly, sadly, I ceased being a reader over a decade ago. I have read neither cyberpunk nor steampunk, nor anything written in the last 20 years. I once struggled through two romances (never again!).

    The world is awash with ‘product’: Science Fiction, Fantasy, every kind of Awesome, and I’m away down my hobbit hole trying to ‘create content’. (Insider goss: it’s not going well.)

    It would be so easy to quit (you’d think!), and just become a consumer, but like a stubborn fool I don’t..

    • Not reading would make it hard for me to write. With me it is a case of ‘Garbage in; garbage out’, which is why I try to read good quality stories (like ‘Across the Stonewind Sky’).

      • Long ago I was startled to hear one of NZ’s leading children’s authors tell us “I never read what others are writing. That would just destroy me. If I realised I was doing an idea even slightly like theirs, I just stop because it’s already been done. I’d just be copying. So I read nothing, and then I’m free to write. I stay original” [or words to that effect.]

        That *is* part of the reason I don’t read my rivals. Best I don’t know. To continue as a writer, I must remain utterly ignorant of the genre.

      • I am the opposite. I like to know what cleverness my peers are up to. I read them for entertainment and for pleasure

  3. Funny but true story: I started reading reading steampunk to take a break from Victorian literature, such as Dickens, Wilde and Joyce. I fell in love first with Cherie Priest and took a new look at Verne and Wells, The “The Sleeper Awakes.” And now I’ve really taken to the sub-culture, and a happy person because for it.

    • I was reading Steampunk before the genre name was coined. I still treasure my copy of “A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!”. I blame one of my primary school teachers who read “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” to us every afternoon before we left for home, and Ged Maybury, who introduced me to the concept of the Steampunk literary genre.

      Who is your favourite Steampunk author at the moment? I have quite a list of favourites myself.

  4. Pingback: You are what you read; A Steampunk Perspective | Karen J Carlisle

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