Not being able to read since I forgot my book in the backseat of a car got me thinking about reading. There are many stages in the reading-writing relationship of any writer, at least in my experience. And it begins a bit like this:
Stage 1—OMG READING (YUM!)
Stage one is a beautiful time, and it begins long before you write a decent word. I was about three when I started to learn how to read (my mom started me early) and I fell in love instantly. Well, nearly instantly. I was a little jealous of my other pre-school friends who got to run around and play while I had private reading lessons.
I digress already.
Stage one IS a beautiful time. You devour every book that comes your way and you scan the shelves of Borders and Barnes and Noble with a keen eye. If you could buy a candle that was scented like new books, you would stock up and fill your bedroom with that delicious smell. Life is simple. Reading = YUM.
Stage 2—So This is What Writing’s Like, Huh?
Stage two is that time in class when you have to write and you show your mom your masterpiece. You write because your teacher tells you too and because drawing pictures to match the words is kind of fun. Oh yeah, and some grown-ups do it for money too. Suckers.
Stage 3—There are SO MANY Amazing Books Out There!
You’re a little older when you hit stage three. It’s similar to stage one, except this time the anxiety starts to set in. How can you possibly read all these amazing books? How can you even choose the next one? I mean, you’re already in the middle of two novels and the new Harry Potter book just came out!
THIS IS SO INTENSE, WHAT DO I DO?!
Stage 4—I Could Write Like This!
I don’t think there’s any real age for this one. For some people it’s in their teenage years, for others it’s much much later. There’s no right or wrong time for this stage to hit, but if you’re a writer, it will indeed hit.
It’s a spark. You’re reading one day, then BAM! It hits you in the face like a bucket of cold water on a hot summer day. Whoa! What if I wrote a book?
Whoa, man. That’s like, the best idea ever.
Stage 5—Who Needs Reading? I’M WRITING THE NEXT DA VINCI CODE PEOPLE!
People try to deny that this stage exists, because it’s a tad bit embarrassing in hind sight. But alas, it exists, and it comes right after stage four. You start writing that amazing novel and you’re so totally into it you don’t even have time to read anymore.
And really, who needs reading? Reading is for those people who are still learning, and you’ve TOTALLY GOT THIS!
Stage 6—That was a Terrible Idea. I’m Gonna Go Cry at Borders Now.
This stage comes at different times. Sometimes it’s after your look over your first draft. Sometimes it’s after your first rejection. Sometimes it doesn’t come until you put your fourth manuscript in the drawer.
Inevitably, however, the doubt sets in and you look at those amazing books out there and wonder how you ever thought you could match up. You try to read, but it makes you feel more inadequate. Then you step away from that thing called writing and forget about getting published. It was a crazy dream anyway.
Stage 7—But Wait. THIS Got Published! SO CAN I!
Stage seven is about as wonderful as stage one, particularly because it comes after stage six. Many things can trigger it, but success stories tend to do the trick. Particularly raging successes that talk about THOSE SAME EXACT DOUBTS that you were having.
It’s a relief, because it turns out you’re not crazy after all.
It’s also a relief, because you can write again, so those characters in your head aren’t giving you the cold shoulder anymore.
Stage 8—I’ve Finished Writing for the Day, Where’s My Book?
There are two key things here in this stage. First, you’re writing daily. This is a very important practice, regardless of what you’ve written.
Second, you’re reading. I’ve heard many schools of thought on this, but I think it’s infinitely important to keep reading even while you’re writing. Preferably start writing something first before you start reading, because there’s nothing worse than being twenty pages into a book only to realize that you’re re-writing that amazing book you just finished.
Nonetheless, the more you read, the better you will write. And the more you write the better you will write.
So the more you read and write the more STUPENDOUSLY AMAZING you will write, right? J
So seriously. Where’s my book?
Any more stages I didn’t cover? Let’s talk about them!