Cindy’s Rules for Writers #4


Rule #4

Read. Everyday, whenever you have a bit of time, read. Not just anything, although that is good for a different reason, but the kind of writing that you want to do. If you want to be a journalist, read newspapers and magazines. If you want to be a novelist, read novels. If you want to be a poet, read poetry. Not just a little, but a lot. Get to know different styles of writing. Read works by great writers that you can model your writing after. Yes, I believe a lot of what you learn as a writer can happen by osmosis–in this case, just reading a lot of excellent writing–because you remember a bit of what you read (if your memory is better, you’ll remember a lot!), and what you remember will seep into your writing. But don’t just read excellent writing. Read the really bad writing too, and those in between. If you can distinguish the bad writing from the good writing, you’ll be able to apply that to your writing. You will know when your writing is good and when it is bad. You will learn how to avoid the bad writing and write better. I’m willing to bet that no good writer ever became good at writing without having reading a lot. What are you waiting for? Go get something to read!

The effect of books


Some books are meant to tickle the surface, bring about a smile, a chuckle, a frown, a tear. Others to nail you to a spot while engaging your mind in an exhilarating, breath-taking, mind-numbing adventure. Still others are meant to penetrate the depths of the mind and launch the reader into a soul-searching metaphysical conversation with the universe. Finally, there are the books that drag you out of your complacent lifestyle and launch you into the strange and frightening world where you can only succeed if you survive, and you only survive if you dare to take a step into the unknown. 

They each have a different effect on you. What does not affect you in some meaningful way is what you discard, sometimes after the first few pages.

365 Things to Look Forward to-Number 19: Starting a book


19. Starting a book

To a certified bibliophile like me, a.k.a. bookworm, one of the most exciting things to look forward to is to start reading a new book. In fact, sometimes the prospect of starting to read a new book is so exciting that I have to hurry to finish the book I am currently reading, just so I can start a new one.

If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s a book, especially if it promises to be a good one. Of course there are certain books I just won’t touch or be seen with, but at the risk of being hung by my thumbs by fans of such literature, I will not mention any genres in particular.

I love the feel, the sight, the smell of a new book, especially the hardbound editions. I can’t say much about the smell of a new pocket book, though. Not much stands out to attract my olfactory glands. But the smooth cover, the unturned crisp virgin pages–what a joy.

Not everything is perfect, of course. Many times, your average pocket book has a cover that suggests very little or has no relation at all to the title or the contents. I have to admit, though, that the cover, along with the title, are a main attracting point. There’s nothing like a catchy, fresh, original title that piques my curiosity. Add to that an intriguing cover design, and I’m a sucker born that very minute. If I had the money to buy every single book I am drawn to, I would have the Library of Congress in my living room. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. The PEI Confederation Centre Public Library then. Okay, okay. The Stratford Public Library, maybe.

But really, my dream room is a home library that is covered floor to ceiling in books, with at least three levels, like a tower or an atrium and those quaint ladders running along tracks around the room so you can get to any level quickly. And in that room, a bay window with cushions piled upon cushions overlooking some totally rustic country garden filled with weeping willows and riotous wildflowers everywhere. Maybe a garden bower with a hammock or wide, cozy swing where I can curl up and spend hour after hour reading.

My dream reading world aside, nothing attracts me like a book. You know what I mean, of course. Books have this unique magnetic influence on me, and I have been that way since I was a child. Ask my schoolmates. The best memories they probably have of me are me sitting in the grass reading a book.

Look at me–I still haven’t even gotten to actually starting reading and I’m all excited already!

Seeing a book with a title that totally captivates me, like “where a dobdob meets a dikdik” (yes, that is a book title!) has me so worked up, I just can’t wait to dive in. I imagine all sorts of deliciously fancifully outrageous words with a title like that. Is it obvious? I just love books on words. You won’t believe how many dictionaries I own. Or books on lexical oddities and other lexical explorations. Yes, I am a logophile of sorts. I love the new words I pick up from new books. I relish finding out the meanings of all manner of words and phrases and expressions. What could be more fun?

Don’t get me wrong. Geeky word books aren’t the only things that get me going. I love fiction with a passion, as well. And if it’s a mystery or detective story, you can bet I’ll enjoy it, as long as it’s not something with gratuitous violence and gore or foul language (oh, I’ll put up with occasional romantic interludes if the story is intriguing enough—which means I skip to when the interlude is over—and as long as the foul language doesn’t get in the way of the story, the way NORMAL people talk, pretty much, then I’ll put up with that as well). If it’s overloaded at the very start, I’m just not interested and I drop the book like a hot potato.

Naturally, there are authors I will grab without a second thought, and those that I avoid. Again, I will not mention those I will avoid, but I do love a Forsythe, Le Carre, or Ludlum anytime. There are several new bestselling authors as well, who write mainly mystery and suspense, who I don’t mind reading as well, since my top three don’t write as frequently (and Ludlum won’t write anymore, sigh).

I always read the blurb in the back, in the inside cover, anything before the actual text, and sometimes the first page to decide if I want to read the book. Sometimes, what looks interesting becomes a major let-down before the first chapter ends, or somewhere into the second chapter…and that book gets shelved or returned to the library long before the due date is up.

It takes a certain mood to tackle serious literature, and when I’m in that mood, then I go for the “literature” section in the library or bookstore. Naturally, I do have a few favorites in those areas as well, and there are those I will definitely always be quick to get, such as Umberto Eco, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende and similar fare.

There is a broad range of literature I will read, including poetry, short fiction (I love short stories, too and make it a point to get the Science Fiction annuals, or the Best Short Stories annuals, etc.). I do love science fiction and follow certain mini-series types, such as Terry Brooks, naturally Narnia, and absolutely Lord of the Rings, but I do love reading new books as well and am constantly on the lookout for new authors and new titles that aren’t another title in a long on-going series designed for or from video games or role-playing games.

I also love reference books, art books, cook books, craft books, and how-to books, as well as special occasion books, particularly Christmas books!

I try to imagine what new things I will learn, new stories, new lives I will encounter. Then, when I start the book, I stop thinking forward and just take each page, each chapter as it comes. It’s the hardest thing for me to do to put a book down at the end of a chapter or two because I have to go to sleep or go to work or do something else.

Ah, give me a book and you won’t hear from me for a long long time…as long as I don’t have any other things to do, of course. If I could only do one thing, just one thing for the rest of my life, I would choose to read books.