17 September 2012

Writing for the Love of Writing

I have many friends who are artists, painters for the most part. For them, art seems to be a way of life. They sketch, draw and paint because it is second nature and they love what they do. It seems as though there is nothing else they would rather be doing.

Many writers also love what they do. No one is paying us for all the blog posts we write. For many of us, the reward is the opportunity to share our ideas and talents and to simply belong to our wonderful community of fellow writers. As an added benefit, we also build a following and hope folks remember us.

Reading Is Part of the Job Description
One of the ways that writers develop their voice, prod their imagination and become more agile with language is to read, read again, and then read some more. One of my recent Life List commitments is to read two contemporary novels a month. So far, I’ve been keeping up and right now, I’m ahead of schedule.

My ongoing search to find worthwhile books to read inspired this blog post.

Choice Is a Luxury
I am mostly interested in mysteries and thrillers and my Ipad is filling up with them. Just recently, I stocked my electronic library with an additional ten new titles that warrant a second look. Many of them, I will end up reading sooner or later.

The Value of a Good Read
An important point is the cost of these books and how I find them. I use a very simple method and pay nothing for the books. I find new titles by searching twitter approximately three times a week for “free mystery” and “free thriller.” Among a handful of twitter results, I choose books on Amazon with four and five-star ratings that have well-written and convincing reviews.

During the past two months, I read two novels that are of very high literary quality and two others that were excellent and enjoyable reads. If this experience is any indication, I’ll be able to keep reading quality novels indefinitely and at no charge.

What This Means for Novelists
What does a proliferation of high-quality, free ebooks mean for authors who aspire to write fiction for a living? In my opinion it means you have to be talented and prolific.

Most of the recently-minted, “famous” authors we read about published at least ten books before they achieved their fame. If you are serious about writing for a living, at some point in your career, you may have to publish one or more books a year. You can also get lucky. The book you are working on can become a best-seller that lands you a movie deal. While this is great if it happens, this is not a plan you can take to the bank.

I Don’t Run Into Low-Quality Ebooks
Another observation of mine over this test period is that I didn’t encounter the “lots-of-bad-ebooks-out-there” experience that I keep reading about. Don’t get me wrong, I know they’re out there. The point is: I don’t run into them.

Here is a thought exercise. Do you constantly run into websites and blogs in which you have little or no interest, sites that feature low quality content filled with grammatical errors? Chances are, you solved that problem a long time ago. You’d probably have to pause for a moment if you had to find such a site on short notice.

If you find yourself investing too much time reading bad-quality ebooks, consider modifying how you decide which ones to read.

What’s your reading regimen like? How do you choose which books to read?

Painting: Ivan Olinksy (1878 - 1962)

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