Saturday, January 27, 2007

Whatever works

I got an e mail from a writer I knew back when we were both starting out. These days he writes as much non-fiction as fiction. he tells me that non-fic is in about the same shape as fic these days. Grim. At least in the slots he works.

I asked him if he still believed it was detrimental to his work process to read fiction. He replied that other than short stories and novelettes (he started out in science fiction) he hasn't read much fiction in the twenty-five years since we've communicated.

I'm a firm believer in the whatever works process. If you can only do your best work sitting inside a refrigerator wearing a snowsuit, go to it. There's no right or wrong when you're talking about stirring your muse.

But as I said to him then and said to him again, it's difficult to imagine a day passing when I don't read for at least two or three hour. That's my process. Now I don't always read a lot of genre. Right now for instance I'm going through a small stack of Larry McMurtry novels set in the Hwood of the eighties. Fine stuff. The writing's so good I get energy from it. It's so good it makes me want to be better with my own work.

Whatever works. Do any of you feel that reading fiction inhibits your own writing?


Anonymous said...

I don't read or watch any type of television of movies in the genre I'm currently writing in, but I'm always reading something. I started doing that years ago, when I decided that it was possible that I might unconsciously grab a phrase or tone that I liked and that fit, but didn't belong to me. Seems to have worked so far. I think.


Unknown said...

I can't imagine not reading fiction. I'm not sure I could survive.

Anonymous said...

I know a number of younger authors who believe that reading someone else's fiction while working on your own leads to an involuntary absorption and reflection of that author's style.
Perhaps it's true for them, but this seems oversensitive to me.

If it held true for me than I would have absorbed the style of some of the finest writers of all time and, alas, it's all too obvious that this is not the case.

Reading good prose is energizing. It reminds me of the end I want to reach, and not necessarily the way I want to get there.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

Not reading fiction would be tantamount to putting me in jail. In solitary. If I happen to pick up something and incorporate it into something I'm writing, sue me. It's worth the risk to be able to read fiction anytime, all the time.