Most writers have less and less time to read if they want to more and more write.
But it is in reading that I see what fascinates people. What motivates people. What creativity hides inside of people.
Do you know what a Cthulhu is?
I really didn’t. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t know. There’s a lot of words in the world I don’t know. But I broke down last week and ordered the hardcover version of H.P. Lovecraft’s Greatest Hits. I’d always heard about his being one of the pioneers of horror and bizarre fantasy, but I figured it was time to find out for myself.
Now, for you readers, fantasy lovers, science fiction aficionados, you already know this word. But for those of us who never got around to reading many of the classics, this is a new word for us. For me.
There is a true style of richness in the writing of the beginning of the century — one that flows from the lips and mind onto the pages like melted chocolate. There is a decadence in their words that are lost to today’s publishers. Not that I harbor any negativity for modern literature — on the contrary, ~I~ am a modern writer. Language has changed; cadence, allusion, all fell under a different tree back in the early 1900s.
And that is why I read. To experience the same emotions written in the language of the time.
I don’t consider myself well read, although I have danced through quite a number of books in my lifetime. Novels, biographies, poetry, and short stories, from non-rhyming stanzas to staccato sentences to flowery where-is-this-going prose, I have enjoyed quite a bit of history through the eyes of other writers.
And that is why reading is so linked to writing.
When reading the flowing words of H.P. Lovecraft or Edgar Allan Poe, it as if I have time traveled to other worlds, other minds. I am a fantasy/historical/ancient worlds kind of reader, so their prose is right up my alley. I also loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy long before it became a set of movies, and found entertainment in the depth of books such as Shogun by James Mitchell and Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. They all create a world with their words, a world you can get lost in.
We all have our style — we all have our authors styles as well. Those who seem to be able to articulate better than we can. Someone who can describe a world, a situation, in one or two sentences (something I am eternally working on). How much description is too much? Too little? How do we make someone care about what’s going on? How far do we have to go to bring the reader into our world? Should I cut this sentence? This paragraph? This chapter?
There are as many styles as there are days of the week. Or month. Even though we tend to pick our own genres of writers, there are many styles to choose from. To explore. To listen to.
That is why those of us who write write. That is why those of you who tinker with writing tinker. It’s like learning to play the piano. The beginning is full of mistakes and run-on sentences and confused plots. But the more you practice, the better you get. And the better you feel.
According to Wikipedia, “Cthulhu is a cosmic entity created by writer H.P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ published in 1928. Considered a Great Old One …. Lovecraft depicts Cthulhu as a gigantic entity worshiped by cultists. Cthulhu’s anatomy is described as part octopus, part man, and part dragon.”
Think of what you could write around that!
So write write write. And when time allows (even when it doesn’t), read read read.
H.P. Lovecraft and his fellow writers will thank you for it.