It may sound cliche, but I feel as if my best education in writing has come from the books I’ve read. In today’s MFA culture, sometimes the degree one has seems to count for more than practical experience. While a master’s degree in creative writing would certainly be valuable, I think its important not to discredit the hands on learning that books offer an author.
I have been reading since I was very young and it has always been my preferred escape rather than the sports or video games that my contemporaries engaged in. I don’t believe there has been a time in my life where I haven’t had a book I was currently reading. In college, my reading list became somewhat dictated by my English professors, but the point is, I kept reading.
Thus, in the back of my mind, I always wanted to write one of these stories like the ones I have devoured constantly. And, when the time came (after so much writer’s block!), I found it relatively easy to let the words flow and trust that they would fit themselves into at least decent construction of a novel.
I think this osmosis of writerly learning is best demonstrated by how I have navigated through writing a trilogy. Characters popped into the storyline and filled in little gaps, complicated the plot, and I had usually not premeditated their arrivals all that much. When I started writing Inductance, it was second nature to me to gloss back over some of the major events from Capacitance in the first chapter, to refresh readers (even though I personally let my eyes skim over these reminders in books that I read).
As well as giving one a sense of how stories are crafted, a lifetime of readership can provide the wealth of random and seemingly useless knowledge that a true writer will have accumulated in their gray matter. I can’t tell you how many times I have spouted off with some random fact or known the answer to a trivia question in a board game, and when questioned how I came by that knowledge my answer was, “from reading.”
So, if you’re a writer, don’t spend so much time trying to get your book on the shelves that you forget all the other titles alongside it. And even if you aren’t a writer, never underestimate the mind expanding nature of a good book. 🙂