I began writing for publication during the 1990s, but my love for books began decades before during my childhood. My mom wanted me to develop my Italian so she subscribed me to an Italian comic magazine when I was about ten years old. During my preteen years, she would take me to her friend’s bookstore, the place where my love for books grew, as my reading skills developed. Then when I turned thirteen, I began to write in a journal my grandmother gave to me. It was during those years that I realized how my journal reflected the new words I learned in the books I was reading. My sentences improved, expressing myself became easier and my thoughts and imagination were set free! It was my uncle however, who started me in serious writing. His method was fundamentally based on improving my reading list by including literary wonders from Dante Alighieri and Niccolo Machiavelli, to more contemporary writers like Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, Giovanni Guareschi, Stephen King, Agatha Christi, Isaac Asimov, Robert Ludlum, etc. By the time I was 18 years old, I was not only an avid reader of most genres, I was already developing my own personal favorites like, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, J.J. Benitez, Hemmingway, Richard Bach and a zillion others! But it wasn’t until I migrated to the US that I discovered an interest in writing for publication.
This little bio on my own evolution from reader to writer is meant to show how the process takes time, but also how big a role reading plays. To be honest, without reading, in my mind there can’t be a real writer. Yes creative writing classes are good to learn the craft and to exercise the mind. But without reading a writer is limiting their potential to the minimum. Here are some bullet points on why this is true:
- How can we expect to write stories appealing to readers, if we don’t even know what it means to be a reader?
- In the same way musicians are inspired by the great musicians before them…so are the writers inspired by the great authors who paved the way before us. So without that source of inspiration, knowledge and guidance; how can a writer become a unique author, how can a writer discover their own style, how can an author inspire others through their work?
- When writing for publication, an author needs to do a lot a research regardless of what genre they’re writing in. But they also need to know what the current marketing trends are and targets for the genre they are writing. How can they know what their audience wants if they aren’t readers of the genre they are writing in?
- How can a writer learn about pacing, style, character development, setting, plot, etc. without reading?
- How can a writer be sure their book is well edited without being a reader?
When it comes to reading it doesn’t matter what you read, but when it comes to writing we have to make sure we know what others have done on the topic we wish to write about and learn what works for readers and what doesn’t. This also serves to discover if our topic has been done too much or to figure out if our angle could be a niche. There are an infinite number of reasons why we should read as writers. But if you are still not convinced just ask yourself… why should anyone read your book when you won’t read any ones else’s book?