Reading if you want to be a writer

Here in the KL, there is an independent bookstore called Silverfish. It has a great site and newsletter you can subscribe to.
Here, the owner Raman – renowned for his blunt speaking – talks about a parent wanting to turn his offspring into another JK Rowling.

Part of the conversation he had with said parent went like this:
Then he said, “Unless you are deaf, dumb and blind, everyone knows how much money JK Rowling makes.”
Oh God! Not another one!

“How many JK Rowlings are there?”
“One.” He looked puzzled.
“What is the population of the world?”
“I don’t know … several billions.”
“So, the chances of your daughter becoming another JK Rowling is one in several billions. Now, if you go downstairs and buy a lottery, the chances of you winning the first prize is one in three million. Wouldn’t that be much better? Anyway your daughter has not even started writing.”

Raman, I sympathise. I also have come across people who think they want to be writers, yet hardly ever read, and hardly ever write. It’s weird.

And if any of those people are reading this blog (which I doubt) – take a look at the sidebar on the left, down at the bottom. There is a list of the books I have read since January 1st. And bear in mind that I have a “real” job, plus I write at least one book a year.

There are 10 books on that list, many of them with over 400 pages. That’s more than one book a week. And I am no speed reader, either, alas.

  • 4 of them are science fiction/fantasy.
  • 3 others are non-fiction.
  • 3 are so-called “literary” fiction.
In other words, I read widely. I don’t confine myself to just the kind of books I write.

Why do I read?

  • For enjoyment and entertainment.
  • For knowledge.
  • To learn more about my craft.
  • To support the industry (I buy most of the books I read).

If you want to be a writer, the first thing you have to do is read. A lot.
The second thing is write. A lot.
The third thing is support the industry by buying books.

Sounds elementary, right? You’d be surprised.


Reading if you want to be a writer — 3 Comments

  1. Supporting the industry is OK if you can afford it, I don’t buy many books these days. However, I guess I have done my bit over the last 60 odd years so I guess I shouldn’t feel guilty – after all, I just bought two of yours LOL. I used to have a personal library of over 2,000 books plus I have patronised libraries for years. I fit in the category of “I always wanted to write a book” but maybe I’m too lazy, I certainly never got any ideas other than something similar to my blog. I did write something similar and was told by a publisher it wouldn’t sell as I didn’t have a “name” in the food world.

  2. You don’t seem lazy to me, Jo – judging by your blog!

    I am having to be more circumspect about book buying now too – prices have gone up here as most English language novels are imported. A friend and I have a joint book buying programme – we buy and swop and we each get to keep every second book!

  3. That sounds like a good idea, Glenda. I have been buying some ebooks of course but I was spending a small fortune on those so had to cut back drastically.

    As for laziness, I was referring mainly to all the research involved in writing a novel. Jean M. Auel makes that an excuse not to write at all of course. But then none of her books were as good as the first one which was brilliant.

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