I make no apologies when claiming to love reading. I was reading before I went to school, thanks to my parents reading to me every night.
All writers start out as readers. If someone tells me that they write books but don’t read them, I can’t help but wonder how he knows to construct a sentence, a paragraph, a story arc, and how to avoide clichés and stereotypes. How does he know what genre he is writing in, and what is already in that that genre.
So, a successful writer has to be a reader, for many reasons. Reading is the gateway to being a writer, any sort of writer. Off the top of my head, I read for:
4/ Even more research (I do a lot of research); and
5/ Educational purposes.
Reading for research! You need to research for both fiction and nonfiction texts. I’ve done enough research to fill a library with historical detail for my Steampunk novels; and I still feel like I’ve never researched enough. I find it is easier with my scientific articles, because I can list my references!
Reading has physical and intellectual benefits apart from supplying inspiration and verisimilitude to your prose.
This is why I have ten bookcases in my house and shelves packed with a double layer of books.
Over the past few days, I’ve been hit with the cleaning and gardening bug. I guess spring cleaning is a thing? I’ve put in a new garden, for more vegetables and herbs. I may remove the lavenders from the other vegetable garden as they are taking over. But they are doing so well…
On Monday, it seemed to me that everwhere I looked, my house was grubby. Not filthy, but just not clean enough, particularly my kitchen. Now the kitchen is much cleaner, the baby seedlings that have sprouted are planted out and we have to hope the cat doesn’t sit or pee on them. I’ve dusted. Tomorrow I plan on vacuuming and washing the floors.
Now … what does this have to do with writing? My extra energy levels have also flowed into my muse. I’m feeling the process flowing more smoothly, whereas I was having a hard time writing anything at all last week. Maybe seeing everything growing and blossoming has inspired me. We’ve had the first crop of the beans and the leafy greens from the garden, and I can see all the baby tomatoes (I’m salivating all ready), and the eggplants are flowering.
And, even though my lungs are still a little congested, they are better than they were, even with the pollen count to infinity. Now, all we need is rain … for my plants. My muse needs some refreshment too, but the gardening is certainly helping there. I find growing things a creative process.
Cirenaica Moreira From the series Metalica: La Industrial, Lavanderia Habana Gelatin silver print, 1998
This image has inspired me to write a short story.
There is a really persistent underlying discourse in the English language and culture: duality. Everything is black and white, male and female, tall and small, right or wrong, good or evil. One of the assumptions about real science is that there is very little creativity involved. Science is logical, rational and ‘cold’. I hold a Bachelor of Science AND a Bachelor of Arts, and I can tell you that nothing is further from the truth.
Human beings tend to prefer simple over complex, and science is neither ‘cold’ nor is it solely rational. A scientist is not the opposite of an artist. A scientist follows the stream of science that interests them. They are certainly not unemotional when they are in the ‘my work requires funding’ stage of their career (stressed would be one of the words I would use instead). In Australia, most scientist aren’t that well paid, and generally work for love (like writers and artists) rather than fame and fortune.
I love this website and can recommend it highly.
By buying into the discourse that science is rational and cold as opposed to art being warm and creative, two stereotypes are perpetrated. Being an artist takes a lot of training and thinking and expensive equipment as well as talent … as does being a scientist. Passion is something of an over-used cliché these days, but both art and science take real passion. As a writer and a scientist, the conflicting stereotypes would indicate that I have a split personality, rather than mad fangirl that I am in reality.
The perceived opposition of science and art is as fake as the culturally perceived duality of night and day, and is lazy writing. A day can be broken down into morning and afternoon, and what about sunset,sunrise and twilight and a dozen other ways of describing the zeitgeist of a moment. Don’t fall into the trap.