Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Monday, November 14, 2011

in which I offer no original content...

... because Brian Keene knocks it out of the fucking park in this speech. Read it all, friends and neighbors. Especially you beginning writers. Yeah, Nanoers, I'm talking to YOU. All of you. Stop the mad typing for ten minutes and read this speech.

A horror writer should know the genre’s history for several reasons. First and foremost, they should know it so as not to repeat the mistakes of its past. They should draw upon that history, letting the books and stories that have been written in the past inspire and inform and shape their own work. You know that novel you’re working on about Nazi ghosts haunting a tank? Graham Masterton beat you to it back in the Seventies. If you’re writing about vampires, you’ve probably read Dracula — but did you also read the works of Les Daniels, or Salem’s Lot, They Thirst, Vampyrrhic, or Lot Lizards? Maybe you saw Ramsey Campbell at a convention and were told he is one of the most important living authors, but you’re not sure why. This is unacceptable. Maybe (and most importantly) you want to become a better writer by studying and understanding the various styles of writers that came before you. The only way to do that is through reading.

Reading is a crucial part of being a writer, and it’s essential at all stages of your development and career. You should certainly read outside of your chosen genre, but it’s also important to read inside your genre, as well. You may not like all of them, but you should read them anyway. Your writing will be better for having done so.

And this goes for all of us who have a TBR pile the size of Texas. It is one of my greatest sins. For all that we scramble to buy book after book, how many of us simply haven't gotten around to the books on the shelf? The books we picked up because we know that author is One of The Big Guys and we should read that book someday.

Life is short. Someday should be today.

1 Comments:

Blogger Angelia said...

If someday is today for reading, when am I supposed to write? I know, read some, write some. I need to quit fooling around on the net and do both.

Reading OF BLOOD AND THE MOON right now.

5:47 PM  

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