It is my pleasure to welcome J.M. Peace as a guest today.
I have a confession to make. Not a police-type of confession – no need to call out Ethical Standards Command yet. This is a writer-type confession. Nearly every article I have ever read about how to be an effective and successful writer offers the same tip. To be a great writer, you need to read. Read often, read widely, read in the genre you are writing.
I don’t read much, and when I do read, it is seldom in my genre. There. I said it. And it is too late. My book has been published. That in itself makes it successful. I am a real author. Despite flying directly in the face of accepted advice.
I do feel bad about not reading. I enjoy a good story. I currently have a tall but stable pile of ‘books to read’ on my bedside table but I just never seem to get to them. My ‘Goodreads’ account is a trainwreck.
When I was in university, I remember drawing up a list of all the books I thought I should read and reserving them through the library. I read Bliss and The Handmaid’s Tale along with Metamorphosis and Crime and Punishment. Then when I spent some years backpacking (before the days of e-books), I’d swap books with anyone who had a spare. I swapped my way through a lot of ‘holiday reads’, but I was also introduced to novels such as Midnight’s Children and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Unfortunately, these days most of the reading I do these days is about fairies or talking animals with children on my lap.
In my own defence, I have very limited spare time these days. When I do have an hour up my sleeve, I can choose to read or choose to write. TV rarely comes into the equation. I’ve set my priorities and if nothing else, I’m consistent.
There’s an unfortunate side-effect to all of this non-reading. I am hesitant when meeting other writers. They ask me things like “what are you reading?”, “who are you favourite crime writers?” I have answers formulated but they sound inadequate to me. People speak about an author’s work and assume I will know who it is. Do I say that I don’t know and look stupid? Or bluff it and hope I get away with it? Either way leaves me nervous.
I’ve tried to see the positive side of not reading, particularly not reading crime. For instance, no one can accuse me of stealing their ideas because I have invariably not read their books. But then every time I read another respected author advocating the importance of reading, the guilt wells up again.
So I have exposed myself now. Please don’t condemn me. I’m proof there’s not just one way to be a writer, or a reader for that matter.
Sometimes I fantasise about sitting on the beach with the sun warming my back, a recent release in my hand, five spare hours before the school run, and no other responsibilities. I conjure up that delicious sensation of sinking into a book, befriending the characters and letting the story sweep the hours away.
Being a mum with 2 little ones and a part time job; I understand where Jay’s coming from and yet, I do read a lot -primarily during my commute to and from work. No matter how much City Rail sucks (any Sydneysiders here?), I love it because it’s my reading time.
Find out more about Jay, her book, A Time to Run, and the blog tour: here (includes my 4 stars-review)