How do the things you read impact your writing? What do you love to read? What do you avoid reading at all costs? How would your writing change if you read more of the things you typically avoid?
Because I write mainly non-fiction, research determines much of my reading material as I pore over facts to reference and cross reference. I also read biographies in an effort to better understand the human condition. Voyeuristic maybe, but looking at the lives of others often allows deeper insight into, and understanding of ourselves. It is what I love and I lose myself in the minutiae of situations many others would find boring. I also read a lot of poetry and through appreciation of this I find a progression in my own poems through experimentation with different poetic forms.
I avoid reading science fiction and fantasy and all their sub genres, only reading it when requested to critique or appraise a piece of writing or manuscript. On the other hand, I don’t mind repeat reads of fairy tales, particularly when they’ve been given a new or contemporary treatment. I once wrote a mythology for an assignment and enjoyed the process, although I had to visualise it as a video game in order to progress through the different worlds. There was a time when I used to read anything and everything, across most genres. I worked my way through the massive tomes of Uris and devoured every word written by Tolkien, introducing my children to The Hobbit in their cradles. I burrowed into Watership Down, and engaged with the search for freedom of Jonathon Livingstone Seagull. Writing this now, I can see I have narrowed my own reading experience through too many years of study and teaching others and perhaps I have withered my reader’s soul to some degree.
To answer how my writing might change if I were to read more of the avoided genres is more difficult, however, I believe that as writers, we are influenced by everything we read, either subconsciously or consciously, if only in a small way, and carry this through into our own writing. So I suppose my writing would change from broadened reading experience and I might return to a more joyful state of literary freedom. Who knows? It’s worth a try. Isn’t it?
~ Merlene Fawdry
~ Merlene Fawdry