Shannon, here, for one quick announcement and an introduction before we start today’s post.
My latest interview came in, and you can read it by visiting Bonnie Brown’s Book Reviews. I talk about why magic can happen in even the smallest of towns (hence why The Timely Death Trilogy is set in Hayworth, Kansas). Speaking of the trilogy, Read Watch and Think reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, and you can read her full review by clicking here. Find out why she called it a “must read.”
But today is all about T.B. Markinson – an author, a blogger, and all-around good person, I was very excited when she offered to write a guest blog post for ShannonAThompson.com. Below, you will read about a difficult lesson she had to learn about reading and writing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Authors Don’t Read – a guest post
Thanks, Shannon, for letting me take over your blog for a day. It’s a great honor to be here.
When I was a teenager I super excited to hear one of my favorite authors speak. During the Q and A session a fan asked her (I won’t name the author since she still writes and I would like to avoid a lawsuit) what book she was currently reading. Her answer stunned me. She said she didn’t read since she felt getting absorbed into someone else’s story wasn’t good for her writing and productivity. Then she blamed us by stating her fans would be irate if she read too much instead of writing. This ticked me off. I was a fan and I wasn’t discouraging her from reading. In fact, I’ve never discouraged anyone from reading. I left that night disillusioned and heartbroken.
How could it be that one of the authors I looked up to didn’t read any books? I never thought of that possibility before. The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became. Was she implying that if I wanted to be a writer I had to give up reading? Did I have to sacrifice one of the things I loved most for my craft?
Like most teens, I was stubborn and a know-it-all. I didn’t give up reading, but I will admit her confession stayed in the back of my mind for years. Since then I have learned that this particular author is in the minority. Most authors read and advocate reading to hone their craft. When I read Stephen King’s On Writing I was greatly relieved when I came across this line “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
What a relief! Even though I never stopped reading I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t completely committed to writing. That I would never really succeed until I made the ultimate sacrifice: never read another book. This may sound dramatic to some. I think booklovers will understand.
My advice to all of you if you experience something like this is don’t always believe what you hear even if it comes from someone you respect and admire. Ask others their opinions. And please don’t let someone discourage you or plant seeds of doubt in your head.
About the Author: Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Goodreads, Amazon Author Page
T.B. Markinson is a 40-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling around the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. T. B. has published A Woman Lost, Marionette, and Confessions From A Coffee Shop.
Sign up to TB’s New Release Mailing List here. Your email will never be shared and you will only be contacted when a new book is out.
Cori Tisdale was on top of the world. A basketball star at Harvard and a promising author with a lucrative book deal.
A few years later, Cori’s life is falling apart. Her beautiful girlfriend, Kat Finn, has a shopping addiction. To make ends meet, Cori takes a part-time job at a coffee shop.
Just when Cori thinks her life can’t get any worse, an old crush appears out of the blue. Cori’s friendship with Samantha Clarke pushes Cori further into a dangerous abyss when Sam reveals two secrets to Cori and asks her not to tell a soul, including Kat.
Will this be the end of Cori’s and Kat’s relationship?
Purchase Links: Amazon (US) Amazon (UK)
Hope you enjoyed T.B. Markinson’s guest post today! Connect away. She’s an amazing author.
30 thoughts on “Authors Don’t Read – a guest post”
I can understand not having time to read, especially as an author, but not WANTING to read? ::Shakes head:: That totally baffles me. I’m constantly moping because I want another three hours… no, two!… even one will do! I want to read! Then I look at the clock, and realize it’s already two or three hours past when I should have been in bed asleep so I can be up on time tomorrow.
I’m the same way. All my life I’ve been a reader and that desire has increased now that I write as well. Not only does it help me learn, but it’s fun!
And, it is a wonderful (for me) return to sanity from the depths of my own imagination.
Thank you so much for posting this piece.
A deep, ingrained love of reading is one of the main reasons a person would have the desire to write in the first place I would think, so I don’t know how that author could live without it. You’re like me TBM – you need to read like you need oxygen to breathe :).
I agree. I know I’m addicted to books, but it’s not an addiction I want to quit and so far it hasn’t threatened my life. Well there was that one time I was reading a book and crossing a road … now I know not to read while crossing a busy road even if I have the green light.
I used to read and walk all the time when I was a kid. Now I text and walk too LOL!
I kind of fall into this, but it’s more that I don’t always have the time. At least recently because I’m doing a ton of editing. I’ll grab a manga or graphic novel out of the collection when I have some time. If I get a week where I can’t right then I dust off the Kindle, but it’s really hard. Maybe the 5-year-old and being the stay at home parent adds to this now that I think about it.
As for absorbing the style of other authors, I kind of do this. So I don’t read novels when I’m working on a first draft. I don’t even realize I’m doing it too, which is really strange. It really causes trouble since most books are past tense and I write present tense, so you can figure the traffic jam that occurs on the page.
I haven’t read many graphic novels or manga and I keep meaning to. So many rave about them. And when I worked in a bookstore we couldn’t stock the manga section fast enough.
I write in past tense, but even then I do have a habit of switching. I’m working on a draft before sending it to my editor and I keep shaking my head frustrated when I find I switched.
Best of luck with your writing and editing and taking care of a 5-year-old. You must have a lot of energy and patience!
Thanks. I just finished one editing project, so it’s my day off before I tackle the next. As for energy, I wish I could take a solitary vacation in order to sleep for days on end. 😀
Graphic novels are certainly a nice read for when you have free time, but not enough to get into a novel. I collected comics in high school, which is probably what helped me move into the bigger ‘tomes’. Funny thing is that my friends who read more comics than novels have not had any problems with my present tense writing. They don’t even notice it.
I do a tense slip from time to time in my first draft. In fact, it stems from when I started writing in high school. I jumped tense all the time and I was told to pick one and stick to it. I went with present tense and nobody ever told me it was ‘wrong’ or ‘uncommon’ until last year (I’m 34). The hard part is that people still talk about the past in the book and that sometimes gets called out for being a ‘slip’. Honestly, it’s a rough road, but I figure the end is worth it.
Slipping into past or present tense is such an easy thing to do. I tried writing one book in the present tense, but struggled for some reason. Even though in grad school all of my history papers where in present tense. I can’t do the same for stories. That said, I don’t care if an author uses one or the other just as long as they don’t jump around. That’s what editing is for 🙂
A great post! And a good point. Definitely think that author was a minority. Most writers write because they love stories, and I know I couldn’t give up reading others books just because I write my own 😀
It’s hard to imagine a person who creates stories and worlds not to want to immerse in other stories and worlds. For me, being a reader and writer go hand in hand.
I am still trying to wrap my head around how a person who doesn’t read was able to write not only one book, but multiple books. Like a fire needs air, my creative spark requires external influences to keep it burning. Reading the works of others one of my major sources of inspiration. But writing needs aside – I primarily read because, well, it’s fun.
This author has written more than 30 books. Like you, reading inspires me, but the main reason I read is for the pure enjoyment factor. I love stories and at the end of the day I want to read to unwind and have fun.
Not only do I read, but I read as many genres as possible. You never know what things will inspire you… a turn of a phrase, a moment, or just an overall danged good book. The trick is… turning off the inner editor when I read.
Easier said than done!
Yes. I’m also baffled by people who only read one genre. I’m not criticizing I’m just surprised since I enjoy so many different types of books and I learn from all of them. Even the bad ones. I probably learn more from the really awful books but I don’t enjoy reading them as much so I don’t read that many.
So nice to hear your views. It’s telling that there are so many awful books out there. E-books are a Pandora’s box. Freedom for the author doesn’t always equal good books!
That’s very true. It’s so easy to just hit the publish button and hope it sells without putting enough effort into editing and such.
I’m a writer and a mom. If my schedule is tight, I sacrifice the reading so that I can get the writing done. But I could never stop reading altogether. In fact, I tend to buy books faster when I have less time to read, most likely to compensate, and because I’m optimistic about a future where I will have plenty of time to read. Although, when I have less time to read, I will often read poetry. It is so rich with metaphor that it inspires me.
And I totally understand that. Life can be a huge obstacle to reading and being a mom is a full-time job just by itself. I should read more poetry. My problem is my favorite poets are more sarcastic, like Dorothy Parker.
Best of luck to you and I do hope you find the time in the future to read all the books on your shelf. That’s the best thing about books, they’re always ready for you when you are.
I watched an interview with Colleen Hoover recently and she said she didn’t read much either, and I’ve heard other authors say that when they’re writing they try not to read books in their own genre so they aren’t influenced. I get the second point, but to me to be a writer, you surely need to have experience at being on the other end?
That’s a very good point. If you aren’t a reader how do you know what readers like. I usually don’t read too much in my genre when I’m working on a first draft, but I don’t see anything wrong with reading science fiction or something along those lines when I’m writing. I won’t accidentally insert an alien into my contemporary romance.
I just know how much reading has developed my imagination, and changed my opinions and broadened my vocabulary, so if an author writes fantastic work and doesn’t read, fair play to them – I don’t know how they do it! Haha I love that explanation at the end!
I once heard something similar from David Eddings, who was (at the time, right when the Belgariad came out) working at my grocery store. He didn’t read much because he was so busy writing. Years later, I understand his viewpoint. If I have time to read/watch tv/play x-box, I could be writing.
But what I do is set myself a short list of books, and I do keep myself reading all the same. It really is that important.
I wish I could forego watching TV but there are some really good shows on that I’m watching and I enjoy them too much. I know, I should stop. But I just can’t. And for me, it’s a good way to turn my brain off and relax in the evening with my partner. But I could be using that time to write or read, which I know is better for me.
I admire your dedication. I don’t think a writer has to read a certain amount of books per year, but should read according to their tastes, time, and desire.
I can’t understand an author who doesn’t read. I understand not necessarily reading as much when you are actively in the middle of writing something, I suppose. I feel like it’s any other trade — to really be able to be the top of your art you need to be constantly exposing yourself to others in the same field, to learn and grow and expand. At least, that’s what I was always taught…. and how I have always worked.
But, the key is, also, that everyone is going to approach their work differently. What works for you is what works for you 🙂
Great post – thanks T.B. Markinson! (And now i have another blog to read! Yay!)
Yes! A writer has to find what works and then stick with it. And this author that I mentioned found what worked and is very successful. It’s just not a method I want to follow and it wouldn’t work for me. I’m with you, it’s best to experience other works to grow as a writer.