One of my Absolute Write compadres recently blogged about an audience question she got at an author’s panel. If you could only read OR write, which would you choose?
Like many writers, she was unable to decide. The two pleasures are inextricably entwined for writers. Conjoined twins with a single heart and tangled viscera. Most of the writers I know are like me, in that they use reading to fuel their writing energy. If we gave up reading, would we be able to write?
On the flip side, would there be anything new to read, if such a conundrum were presented to the writers of the world? If we all gave up writing in order to keep reading, where would new books come from?
Oh … right. From that scary little clique of would-be writers who bound into writing groups and conferences, clutching their manuscripts and blankly declaring that they “don’t really read.” The mysterious, mystifying non-reading writers. They want you to critique the YA book they wrote, while proudly declaiming that they haven’t read any of the last few years’ top sellers in YA. They just finished writing this thriller, even though they’ve never read a thriller in their lives.
So, please, talented writers of the world, have mercy. If some cruel race of aliens comes to our little blue bouncy ball and imposes this literary Sophie’s Choice, I beg you not to be selfish. Don’t just think of yourself, curled up on the couch reading the great classics of literature. Think of the rest of us, waiting to read your next book. I know, it’s quite a sacrifice I’m asking for, but keep writing. Keep writing.