Friday, September 23, 2011

Writing Without Reading?

"If these are the sorts of books publishers can sell, then these are the books the publishers will champion."


  1. Wanting to write without wanting to read is like wanting to go for a long walk without wanting to get off the damn couch.

  2. I write about a book a year. I read about 45 books a year. That seems like a decent ratio. Everyone should read at least 45 times as much as they write! So says I.

  3. So if you write 5 short stories/year, you should read at least 250 short stories/year. Which is a totally achievable goal.

  4. I don't know about this. I don't agree with the last statement: "Wanting to write without wanting to read is like wanting to use your imagination without wanting to know how."

    Personally, I think it would be more accurate if it said, "Wanting to write without wanting to read is like wanting to use your imagination without wanting to know how everyone else used it before you."

    Usually, while I write, I turn to books to help me solve problems. Honestly, I do it out of laziness a lot of the time. I do it because I don't want to wait until my own brain can solve the problem on my own.

    Then, there are other times when I read a book, love it, and then spend my time trying to produce more of the book by writing something similar myself. There's not necessarily anything wrong with that, but I don't think it's the only approach that can lead to success.

    I'd be interested in see a novel attempt by a great painter who never read a book, or a great violinist who never read a book.

  5. Yeah, I wouldn't want to see that. I don't want to eat a meal prepared by someone who doesn't value food that tastes good and isn't toxic. I don't want to watch a dance put on by people who have no interest in dance. I don't want to listen to symphonies written by people who don't care about symphonic music. If their level of interest in the form is low, how much can I really expect from their work in that form? Why are they working in that form if they aren't the audience for that form? If they have no use for books, why on Earth would I buy theirs? Why should my indifference to their work not equal their indifference to the work of everyone else?

    Reading doesn't just tell you what's been done; it shows you what the possibilities for new work are.

  6. I don't agree with his final analogy, either. There are plenty of ways to use your imagination, plenty of ways other than reading to be imaginative. Mostly, in general, people who don't read write really crappy books and they don't understand why those books are crappy and the only way to explain it is to get them to read a bunch of books. Show me a good book written by someone who doesn't read. A book that's as good as one by a reader, not just something that's interesting as a study in behavior or naive art or whatever, where the lack of the author's reading history is unknown to the reader. Show me something there that's worth reading.

  7. I very much doubt that I would ever be able to come up with any example. Chances are 99 times out of a 100, the attempt would be bad, I agree.


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