As part of my author guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot. Neither Here Nor There I am very excited andthe author of
So go get your copy!
Reading As a Writer
By Cat Rambo
I am a reader and have been one since an early age when, driven mad by curiosity about what was going to happen next in the book my babysitter had been reading (The Hobbit), I grabbed it and took it off on my own, to devour in great gulps that only left me wanting more.
This habit has only strengthened in life. It would be unthinkable for me to travel without both a reader full of e-books and a couple of paperbacks for emergencies and/or hotel bathtub reading. I’ve trimmed down radically more than once, the most drastic harvesting resulting in perhaps ten percent surviving. Most of those are books acquired in early years, including college, whose textbooks hold precious notes, like the notes on Homer’s Odyssey acquired from a class on that book as well as later grapplings with Joyce’s Ulysses. The e-reader has been a godsend, but there’s something about paper versions that’s much more satisfying. If it’s a book I’ll go back to again and again, I need a hardcopy.
So overall, I read as much, if not more, than I ever have. But I’ve found that isn’t the same for all writers.
More than one friend who is a fellow writer has told me, “I can’t read any longer.” Whenever she picked something up, one said, she was spending so much time looking at the flaws and inadequacies that she could not experience that blissful immersion that allows you to forget that you are reading.
If that happened to me…well, I’d be devastated, because I still love a good book, and even a decent to mediocre one can sustain me in a pinch. This may be because I’ve cultivated a particular approach to reading books that goes like this:
- Read once for pleasure.
- Did I love/hate it? If not, go onto the next book.
- If yes, read it again and figure out why, perhaps filling my pockets with tools pilfered from this particular writerly display case.
This lets me relax during that first read. And more than that, it nudges me to get better by looking at what someone else is doing, a course of self-directed study that cannot help but better my craft.
This is because I’ve come to the conclusion that while I once believed it was enough to write in order to improve, it is not. The conventional wisdom is that you must write a million words, but that is not enough. You must think about them while you’re writing them, and you should (in my opinion) look them over at least once in order to make them all that they can be and remove silly mistakes.
The more you read, the more you will know and be able to incorporate in your own writing. Do you want to write amazing stuff? Then read amazing stuff, seek out the best, the stuff that challenges you when you try to figure out, How did they get that effect? How did they make me forget I was reading? What did they put into place that paid off so well at the end of the book? And most importantly, How can I do the same thing in my own writing?
We try to get better at writing, because we know we can. Sometimes people try to impose artificial divisions, to draw lines between one kind of fiction or another, claiming differing degrees of seriousness, pretentiousness, or some other quality, but here is the truth: we are singing songs for our supper, and we want to get better at it, perhaps to delight our listeners, perhaps to delight ourselves, perhaps in pursuit of some other aim. But we do. And reading is a big part of that, and even one that we can allow ourselves to enjoy.
Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is a frequent volunteer with and current President of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. She teaches a series of online classes for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see http://www.kittywumpus.net.
List of and links to fiction: http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/fiction/
The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers: http://classes.catrambo.com
Social Media Links
Book on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33280674-neither-here-nor-there
Cat Rambo’s newest collection of fantasy fiction contains both work original to the collection as well as work from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Tor.com, and other leading fantasy fiction magazines. The work is presented in the same double-sided format as Rambo’s previous collection, Near + Far, of which Don Sakers of Asimov’s said, “If you want some really excellent stories, get the e-book. If you also want a physical object to warm the heart of any print-book collector, go for the paper version.”
Neither Here showcases alt-world fantasy, including stories set in Tabat, the world of her first novel Beasts of Tabat, while Nor There features stories set in our own world, including “The Wizards of West Seattle,” original to the collection. In their starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “This double collection showcases Rambo’s versatility within the fantasy genre. Find out Ursula Vernon called Rambo “one of the brightest talents in the field,” Jodi Lynn Nye said, “Rambo has a gift for immersing her reader into a vivid universe full of adventure, sensuality, wit, and poignant observation,” and NY Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson simply advised, “Cat Rambo is endlessly innovative, ingenious, and just plain entertaining. Read her stories. ”
Includes: Love, Resurrected; The Toad’s Jewel; Pippa’s Smiles; Karaluvian Fale; The Subtler Art; The Mage’s Gift; How Dogs Came to the New Continent; Love’s Footsteps; To Read the Sea; A Brooch of Bone, A Hint of Tooth; Call and Answer, Plant and Harvest; Clockwork Fairies; Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart; The Coffeemaker’s Passion; Elections at Villa Encantada; Seven Clockwork Angels, All Dancing on a Pin; Coyote Barbie; The Wizards of West Seattle; Summer Night in Durham; Web of Blood and Iron; So Glad We Had This Time Together; Snakes on a Train; The Passing of Grandmother’s Quilt.