Recently I took an online class through RWA and while sifting through all the commentary I found this little nugget. A good writer has to be a good reader.
Sure it makes sense, you want someone who enjoys reading to write for you just like you want a chef who enjoys the subtilties in seasonings. But what of the fear of if I start writing and my world looks very similar to the author’s that I’m reading?
It’s no secret that I wrote Chrysalis after being inspired by the Twilight series. I had written the prolog a dozen times before, but never wrote more because I wasn’t even sure what I was doing anyway. Then I just went for it like Stephanie Meyer had. In three weeks I had lost almost thirty pounds and finished my rough draft and that was just the beginning of my series, sadly I started sleeping and eating again so it was the end of my weight loss.
Then there’s The Frozen. I had the idea in my head since college. It was a running joke between my now husband and I that all the evil in the world came from a Hells Mouth in the town where we went to college. As I read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward the image became clearer. Since I was dealing with angels and demons I didn’t start her Fallen Angel series until I was over 60 thousand words in because I didn’t know what her angels were doing, but I wasn’t about to copy her ideas.
Let me tell you when I finally sat down and read about Jim Heron and his overgrown sidekick angels I breathed a small sigh of relief. Her series had a soul war, where mine was an all out war. Hers had men that were inherently good and hadn’t committed any sins, where mine had. Hers were angels, where mine are men and women walking the line.
If nothing else it made me breath a sigh of relief and believe in myself as a writer more. These ideas were mine. The stories were mine. The MUSE was mine. That’s a wonderful feeling.
So back to Stephen King, another writer I was inspired by, not because his stories give me a spark, but because it took him twenty years to get published. Reading is fundamental. We learn this in school, but after this weekend I realized it more than ever. I worked as a campmaster down at my favorite camp Phillippo, which gives you hours of free time in between running around like a chicken with its head cut off. And I read. As I fell into Kristin James’ story about a woman recovering from loss I could hear my characters talking to me again.
Silly Girl has been stalled at about fifty thousand words. I debated on trying a short bridge between my beginning and ending and calling it a novella. But no. I didn’t short change Oscar and Ellie or Kiri and Nye and I wouldn’t do that to Sylvia and Matthias. Their story deserved to be told and so it shall.
Guess I’ll have to read On Writing and stop taking the cliff notes off of blogs and classes, who knows what might happen.