I’m a writer that doesn’t read. It’s one of the greatest secrets as a writer that I have, and something that I’ve thought on and off for a while that I should change. So, with Nishi and Culture Collective as my motive and the desire to change some bad habits, I decided to set out on a challenge: read one book a month.
As a society we read every day: we read articles online, we read for work. We consume different forms of media that helps to influence writers in different ways – not just books. Though reading is important to gain inspiration from other writers and styles in your field, including the guidance on how to structure a plot, and develop characters and stories in intriguing ways, through the years that I’ve fell out of love with reading I’ve listened to music, read blogs, and watched films or TV programmes (as well as thrived off my own imagination). Now, however, I fear that my writing may stagnate if I put it off for much longer – or my imagination might shut the door on new ideas completely.
I started with something easy for this month: Alice in Wonderland.
This was a weird one. It wasn’t the style I usually read; being written in the 19th Century, the grammar was different from what we use today (with Carroll using semicolons and commas in odd places) and as a drug-fuelled trip into Lewis’ imagined world, it had no point other than to be as absurd as possible. This made connecting with the characters difficult as I was constantly grammar-nitpicking from my days as a copy editor, but still Alice is a beloved classic, and I felt like I was looking over a piece of modern history. Having of course loved the Disney film ages ago, I saw the scenes I vaguely remembered and I think this made the story easier to follow.
The read itself I found surprisingly easy; I read the short book in a week. Now, I’m on to Alice Through the Looking Glass, and actually look forward to getting some time to read. There’s a sense of accomplishment but also, different from the way I usually write, I have no immense goals to set myself. I can do a few pages at a time of a short book, and maybe at the end of a few months I’ll have the courage to work myself up to something bigger. At the end of the day, I was, years ago, the young person who read new doorstop-like Harry Potter novels in a matter of hours!