Reading is a Part of Writing

May 26, 2008 at 8:28 am | Posted in books, Jessica, writing | 2 Comments
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Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself that you could write a much better book than the one you just read . . . or couldn’t bring yourself to finish reading? As an unpublished writer wrestling with the frustrations encountered along the road to publication, I know we’ve all come across at least one of those published works that keeps us in the game no matter the odds of our success. If such a ‘poor’ book can make its way to the shelves, certainly one of our stories can break its way through, right?

Last week, we mentioned a blog entry posted by Kristin Nelson on how MILLIONS OF READERS ARE NOT WRONG. And I wholeheartedly agree with what she says in her post — there has to be something about that ‘bad’ (in our own completely unbiased and subjective opinions, of course) book that compelled an agent to represent it, an editor to buy it, and readers to read it. And instead of blasting the book for its faults, we can instead use the frustration to figure out what it was about that particular story to make so many people help bring it to light.

On the flip side, have you ever read a book that was just so good and perfect in every way that it made you feel like a fraud for even attempting to call yourself a writer? That after reading it you hope to someday rival the storytelling ability of that author? I’ve had a few of those moments these past few months, as I’ve read and enjoyed and wished I could write books like Liza Palmer, Eileen Cook, Virginia Kantra, and most recently Jodi Thomas.

Bria has told me over and over again that I needed to read Jodi Thomas but I hadn’t had the chance until this past weekend and now I don’t ever want to stop. On her web site, Jodi has an article for people like us — readers who hope to publish and someday rival the good storytelling ability of our favorite writers — and she shares the same advice once given to her . . . “If you work really, really hard you’ll make it.” In her article she goes on to share just how hard she had to work to become the writer she is. Her story is significant.

I often wish there was a secret blueprint to follow to make it. But I know this learning process – at times painful but nonetheless rewarding – is important for us all to go through. It is what will make us the stronger storytellers, business people, colleagues, and individuals we’ll need to be to survive the ups and downs of publishing, and we all need to arrive at our own process in our own way on our own time. And reading both good books as well as bad are good learning tools and motivators as we find our way, helping us mold and shape the kinds of writers we want to be.

So part of writing is reading — widespread reading not only in your genre but anything you can get your hands on. There is much to learn from all uses of words, in good writing and in bad . . . as much as there is in partaking in the act of writing ourselves.

I hope you find time to read good books and bad . . . but no matter what, keep writing! In the words of Jodi Thomas, “If you work really, really hard you’ll make it.”




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  1. Great post, Jessica. I agree about reading everything. It definitely helps to see what others are doing–and what editors are buying. I also agree with Jodi’s advice. Wanting it is only half the battle.

    Have a great week, Purple Heart friends.

  2. Thanks Marie! Of course, I’ll rationalize my reading habit any way I can . . . but at least it does help the writing quite a bit!
    Wishing you a great week as well!

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