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By ROBERT VILLANUEVA
firstname.lastname@example.org As a writer, it pays to be a good reader, too.
It’s part of honing your craft. By exposing myself to a variety of genres and authors, I can glean things I might not otherwise acquire.
At least that’s the idea.
OK, so I can use a broader spectrum of reading material.
Since I write nonfiction for the newspaper as well as fiction for magazines, I should be reading more nonfiction. Sure, I’ve thrown in a couple of those books about writing among the various contemporary and classic novels I’ve read, but sometimes I feel I need more.
I actually have a reading regimen I created some years ago in an effort to help my writing. I committed to reading books on a regular basis, alternating between classics and contemporary bestsellers.
Not only do I read these novels, but I do a sort of summary when I’m done, listing things like point of view, literary devices and character development.
Some entries are short.
Some consist of the word “none.”
Often I find myself perplexed as to how anyone would pick up and read a particular book much less plunk down money for it. It has sometimes been very painful reading a book, but I force myself to finish once I’ve started.
Sometimes it’s a matter of false hope. I think perhaps the story will get better or there will be a bigger point that is made and great things revealed. It’s the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel syndrome.
Unfortunately, the light at the end of the tunnel generally turns out to be the headlamp of an oncoming train, and it’s all I can do to crawl off the tracks once it plows me down.
But, of course, tastes are subjective, and I try not to dwell.
I’m not always successful in my endeavors.
In fact, I frequently find myself becoming pretty critical in the reviews I write for myself. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
By identifying the things I don’t like about someone’s writing, I become aware of what I don’t want my writing to become. It’s a catch 22 situation since I have to read the writing first.
Strangely enough, I’ve found myself enjoying the classics I’ve read more than most of the contemporary novels. Sometimes it’s a novel I was supposed to read in high school (OK, so I sometimes didn’t get through my reading assignment).
Sometimes it’s a classic that most people were required to read at one time or another.
Whatever the case, I’ve found so many of the classics enjoyable that I look forward to reading them.
That’s not always the case, but it is more often than not.
On the other hand, I’ve discovered a few writers and novels I might not have read if I hadn’t forced myself to adhere to the reading routine. Sometimes it is just a single story. Sometimes it’s a whole novel.
Authors Sherman Alexie and Peter Gadol have produced my two favorite contemporary short stories. These are authors I wouldn’t have read if I hadn’t put a couple of anthologies and literary magazines on my list.
Granted, it doesn’t mean I’ll like everything those authors write. In fact, I read a few other works by those authors that I didn’t like as well as what I originally read.
But that’s OK.
I enjoy looking and being surprised every now and then.
In some ways, I feel everything I read helps in one way or another. The work can confirm things I already know, challenge things I thought I knew or show things I need to know.
And maybe I’ll have an enjoyable trip along the way. Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or email@example.com.