Dear Reader or Writer
Reading when writing. A good idea?
All writers start out as readers. That's what fires our imagination. Stirs our interest. I can do that. Isn't it the way?
We all have an amazing literary experience to tell. The stories that ring our bell and kick us off on our literary travels.
The only problem is that we become addicted to our reading fix. And we read while we are writing.
Trouble with that is, if we don't consciously attempt to write our own version of Harry Potter, we might well be persuaded to steal a battle scene from Lord of the Rings or sneak out a sex scene from twenty-five shades of what not. The temptation, of course, being subliminal.
And what makes the temptation worse is that there are no truly original stories left. Are there?
So if everything is derivative then why not adapt a particular piece of action to your needs, be it in a back alley, the bedroom or the killing fields of the planet Zog?
After all, it's not about copyright.
If I were so convinced that there was room for another school of witchcraft and wizardry, I could quite happily write my own version without sanction. I could set it in a comprehensive in south London, the professors could be sex mad teachers, the death-eaters gang members and the boy who lived a drug addict who survived being stabbed by - you guessed it the death-eaters - sorry gang. In fact, the more I think of it...it might not be that bad an idea....
But it is. Reading while writing sucks the life out of our work. We all strive to be original, yet after a hard day's graft we go to bed clutching the paperback and allow ourselves to be influenced.
The things we like to read become imprinted on our minds. Rather than stealing from the author, they steal away our originality.
So put down that book. Chuck it away and dream. Let the scenes be yours. Sleep tight. Let the action unfold in your subconscious. Then blast it down in pencil first thing in a morning.
That way you might write something worthwhile. And something worthwhile is what others want to read.
Yours affectionately, Saul.