Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Dear Self, Reading Is Not Writing

Over the past couple of weeks I've read a lot of excellent short stories and novellas. I've been overdosing on stories by Connie Willis, Ray Bradbury, and those in an anthology of Nebula winners from 1977--in particular "The Screwfly Solution" by Raccoona Sheldon aka James Tiptree, Jr. aka Alice Bradley Sheldon, and Harlan Ellison's "Jeffty Is Five."

Sometimes when I'm reading non-stop like this, I have trouble resuming my own writing. Everything I want to say feels flat, my ideas unoriginal. On the one hand, I read these powerful works and they inspire me to push my writing further. On the other, it seems like it'd take such a monumental effort to attain the level of skill they exhibit. I don't even know where to start.

So I remind myself: the big picture will drive you crazy. Break goals down into manageable steps. Learn everything you can and be flexible. Make the best art you can. Don't forget to play.

And get back to work.


Anonymous said...

Good advice.

Milo James Fowler said...

When I finished Embassytown, I was overwhelmed by the power of reading something so original, and I doubted my own ability to write anything like it. But then I had to shake myself and get back to playing with my own writing. That's the only way I'll ever come close.

Folly Blaine said...

That's so true, Milo. Sometimes it helps to remind myself that I'm traveling a different path than everybody else who writes, so it's futile (and crazy-making) to make comparisons.