As you’re reading this, please start off with a moment of well earned smugness, because you are reading, and reading is a much needed thing just now.
Here on the internet, everyone is writing (there is no escaping a certain amount of awkward irony in this post.) On twitter there are a lot of authors all shouting at once about their blogs and books. Who is reading them? My guess is that for the vast majority, the answer is, almost no-one. We all want to be heard, but no one who is busy shouting wants to listen.
I talked to an aspiring author the other day who said he didn’t want to read other authors for fear of being influenced. As though a book should be something you write in total isolation with no reference to anyone else. As though being influenced is a bad thing. How are we to learn, if not from each other? How are we to understand writing, if not by reading?
Some of it is about speed, about putting out words at ever greater tempo in the hopes that acceleration will somehow magically lead to something. Churning frantically in the hopes of hitting on a magic formula. The author as word machine, pumping them out at breakneck speed. All too often what follows is writing devoid of ideas, lacking depth, or interest. All those ‘ten ways to be an even better blogger’ posts that I don’t click through and read because they’re so tedious.
I’m going to be giving more of this blog to talking about reading. The book market is tough, and there are many fabulous and deserving books that get overlooked because no one even knows they are there. I’m going to put more energy into promoting other people’s books. If you aren’t a regular reviewer and find a book you really want to rave about, and don’t have a platform to use for that, this is an open invitation. I take guest blogs. Drop me a line.
I’m going to rebalance my life a bit, so that I spend more of my time being a reader, and less of it being a writer. Partly this is for my own enjoyment – I’m happy when I’m reading. Partly it’s to slow down. I want to stop and properly engage with things. Partly because there’s this frantic competition for attention going on out there, and I want a different relationship with it.