How do the things you read impact on your writing? What do you love to read? What do you avoid reading at all costs? How would your writing change if you read more of the things you typically avoid?
I have never attempted to write fiction wanting only to write non-fiction, yet I am continually moved by story tellers. I want the writer to take me somewhere, on a journey, to a place I wouldn’t normally go that I feel compelled to keep learning about. I want to read that which I can connect with so I love books that at some point in the story have a decade in it that I have lived in and in the country in which I live (the UK).
I loved The Vanishing Act of Esme Lewis (Maggie O’Farrell) because the abuse of women through the mental health system is of interest me and while this is fiction, it is a ‘truth’ of a system and the damage it caused. Stuart: A life Backwards (Alexander Masters) is a wonderful tale (based again in truth) told through the narrative of Stuart’s ‘worker’ and the frustration he feels about Stuart’s self-destruction, underpinned by compassion and then understood through going back through Stuart’s life and seeking to make sense of how someone’s life turns out like Stuarts’.
I could list out so many books but in short, I need to connect with the characters, the issues and the outcome on a fairly deep level.
I like to read about the strength and resilience of the human condition and complexities that we have about us that mean we all deal with ‘life’ and what it throws at us, in very different ways.
These types of books impact upon my writing because they create a space in my head that describe a feeling or a place or a political happening or a piece of music differently than I would do so. I have to therefore pause and think again as to how I might write about one of these things. That is a wonderful thing and I love feeling that I have been challenged in that way, that my descriptive capabilities have been added to and that my understanding of a person, place or feeling has been enlarged.
You will never find me reading about dragons or aliens or fairies or wizards. I honestly don’t ‘get’ the whole ‘fantasy’ genre and Sci-Fi has to be very particular, like PD James’ The Children Of Men maybe. That was a great book, but unlike her other books which were Crime, sits under the heading of Sci-Fi. Douglas Adams sits in that genre too but who wouldn’t want to kick off their shoes and sink into The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, safe in the knowledge that 42 is indeed the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything?
I don’t need Hollywood escapism drivel any more than I need dragons. I have no desire to escape. I want to be moved, altered in some way and emotionally prodded.
I’m not sure that my writing would change if I read more of the things I avoid….I cannot see any addition that they would bring to my life at all, let alone just my writing….but that is the wonderful thing about human beings, we’re all so deeply different! What reading impacts upon your journey?