On Writing (and reading)

I read Stephen King’s On Writing a couple of weeks back. This book had been on my to-read list for years—I don’t even remember now where I first heard about it. Somehow I never got around to ordering it, and when I did finally get my own copy some six months back, somehow I couldn’t get started.

This isn’t going to be a book review. But there’s one quote from the book I can’t resist posting, so let’s get it out of the way right now.

“Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”

Writing is hard. I still haven’t got the guts to write fiction, and I probably never will. Creating worlds, making up characters and stories would be tremendously fun, but way too personal. It’s inevitably gonna end up being about me, and I’m not sure I would want other people reading anything I make up outta pieces of my life.

Writing non-fiction seems easy (and safe) in comparison. I’m a great fan of learning by osmosis, i.e. exposing yourself to various influences and hoping your subconscious (or is it unconscious?) picks up whatever’s required. I get to do things I love, and can always justify spending so much time having fun as ‘learning’. It’s a win-win situation.

I read a lot. I’ve read 99 books since last November, and hopefully finish a couple more this month and reach a nice three-digit figure. Nearly all of them are fiction. More than two-thirds of those are Fantasy.

Here’s a nice little sparkline of my monthly reads: Sparkline (4,6,12,3,6,5,7,6,10,2,9,7,8,4,10,6,8,12,14,13,4,6,12,5,7,7,6,5,6,2)

Only two books so far this month! I haven’t been able to keep up my pace lately, mostly because I actually do some real work now-a-days since joining my new company.

I’m mentioning all this because, and quoting Mr. King once again:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

I try to read a lot, but don’t write at all. I hope I start soon, have a lot of catching up to do.

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