Thursday, April 18, 2013

Secret 4

4. To be a good writer you must read! Read, read, read!

To be a good bartender you should be a heavy drinker. A good Police Officer should definitely knock over a few banks, and if you go into marketing or Public Relations it would be best if you believed everything, all the time, no matter what. If you want to be a writer you have to read; the printing on grocery bags, tags on clothing, peoples’ post-it notes that they’ve just left lying around where anyone can see them. Read license plates and the ads that come in the mailbox. Read missing cat posters in your neighborhood wishing they included more text because it is exactly when you are walking around your neighborhood that you are most likely to suffer from a paucity of the written word. Besides, there is always more to say about a cat who made a run for it! Read your phone, your blender, your espresso machine. Read kids books, mystery novels, door signs, smoke detectors, bumper stickers and food packaging. Read T-shirts and things scratched into walls and trees exploring their subtext if they have any which they don’t, but if you can find a book that goes on and on about how they’re actually loaded with subtext then read it cover to cover, twice.

And why, as a writer, should you read, read, read? Some say it is because to become a better writer you must study how others do it, but no one said anything about studying. No one said anything about studying! I’m reading, not studying! Hemingway said you read so you know what your competition is. I’m comfortable with that mostly. For instance, I am a much better writer than the person who wrote my espresso machine. They couldn’t even formulate words, it’s all just faintly confusing symbols. But the secret secret about this one is that it is no more a should situation than if I were advising you on how to have a really bad cold. If you’re going to have a really bad cold, you should cough, a lot.

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