- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.UVsgb4Gv.dpuf Erin's Alter Ego Writes Books: The importance of reading when you're a writer

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The importance of reading when you're a writer

I've always been a voracious reader.

I remember being in second grade and I finished my first long chapter in a day - The Boxcar Children. I devoured it in a matter of hours, not even going to recess that day. I was so excited about the series that I went out and bought the next six in the series. But the appeal of their story ended there.

I credit my nerdy fascination with sci-fi and fantasy with the first time I watched Star Wars when I was 9. I was over at a friend's sister's birthday party - her name escapes me now - and she loved the series, so they watched the whole original (best) trilogy over the course of the party. I hadn't seen it before because I tried watching Star Trek and, well, it just seemed so weird to see aliens like that. They were ugly and their storylines were so confusing. But watching Star Wars - that was a turning point for me.

Suddenly, I wanted to continue that that universe, to tell my own stories of stuff that doesn't happen in our world. I sat down and crafted out stories about Luke Skywalker and his enduring adventures with Ewoks (hey, I was a little girl, after all and the Ewoks had this whole teddy bear appeal for me).

In fourth grade, I was introduced to the Redwall series when my teacher purchased The Outcast of Redwall, featuring a ferret on the cover. I had no idea what it was about, but I wanted to know. So I bought the first book - at three hundred odd pages, it felt like such a huge read for me. I read them every chance I got. During recess, after school. I fell into a rhythm and I bought the next book in the series every weekend.

From there, I graduated to other books. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dragonriders of Pern, The Sword of Truth series (which I was way too young to read at the time), Ender's Game, Anita Blake, Stephen King... the list goes on and on.

And, as strange as it was, I would write my own stories. First, it was just expansions of the universes created in the books I was reading, but then I moved on and started writing books with my own characters and my own stories to tell. I'd shut myself up in my room and would clink at my keyboard for hours. I think that's part of the reason why I can type so quickly.

But above all else, I knew that I wanted to tell my own stories. I knew what I wanted to read, I had my own preferences with how things were written. I knew styles. I had my own pet-peeves of what other authors did.

I took all of their inspiration and mistakes and fused it with my writing. And I think that helped me more than any writing class ever would. Reading, that is.

Unfortunately, I had the bad habit of starting a story and then never finishing it, whether or not it was because it took me so long to write the books or I lost interest or my writing style changed. I have a print out of all of these old books in a binder at my parents' house. Probably only two living souls have seen these stories.

And then I fell out of practice with it. I went to college. Suddenly, I had a myriad of other things keeping me from writing. Projects, tests, exams. My very future depended upon how well I passed my classes. Reading took a back seat. So did writing. After all, so very few people actually got published, how could I ever make a living doing it?

And then, the strangest thing happened. Last year, my parents bought me a Kindle for Christmas. At first, it was a toy, just a strange thing that I never really used. But then, I bought a book on it for $.99. That's right, less than a dollar. It wasn't until I read that book (thank you, Rhiannon Frater, for Pretty When She Dies) and I started researching the writer that I realized she was self-published.

And I looked into it. The world of digital publishing meant that I didn't have go through a publisher. It meant that I could tell my own stories, the way I wanted. I had tried sending stuff off to publishers before, and I had always been rejected. But with this whole self-publishing thing - I didn't have to worry about it.

Suddenly, something clicked. This is something I want to do, have been preparing for it ever since I sat down to write out how Luke Skywalker ended up with a girl who was raised by Ewoks.

And so, I'm trying this out. Going back to what I enjoyed doing when I was little. Sure, I'm not making a living doing it. Right now, I'm averaging about 5 book sales a day. But Chris hears about each sale as it happens, usually through email and we have our little :-) celebrations.

It means a lot to me that I'm writing. And it means a lot to me that people are reading it.

Thanks for the support.

P.S. I've spent this entire post talking about writing in the past, I just wanted to give a quick update on my next book. I'm at 52k words right now and should been done with a first draft by the end of the month and then I'll send it off to some friends to edit it. So give me until March for Extraordinarily Average.


  1. I'm so happy that you are moving forward with your writing career. I'm very excited for you! And I'm glad I was a positive influence.

  2. I'm excited too, although I'm remembering the butt-numbing effect sitting at your computer for hours on end. I'm loving it.

    And you are such a positive influence - I'm anxiously awaiting Pretty When She Kills. The cover looks awesome, just like I know the book will be.