I have heard many authors complain that they do not have time to read. That on top of the demands of a job and a spouse and a child, or four, finding the time to sit down and relax in the evening with a book is as likely as finding the missing link between man and monkey buried in your back garden. But likewise I have also heard many writers claim that to not read is tantamount to claiming that you have no interest in the written word. That not having the time to read simply means you do not have the time to write.
I see the argument for both sides, although I have pretty much set up camp in the latter stronghold. I know my writing limps along when I am not reading, and I know that equally it stops flowing if I am reading something that I am not enjoying. It as if the melancholy I feel whilst reading something I am not fully engaged with attaches itself to my ability to write, and all I manage to get down on paper/screen are words that fail even to inspire the mind from which they originated.
Since I got my Kindle for Christmas it is much easier to try something new, and this has also conversely increased my passion for printed books. In fact I have ordered more paperbacks, and even a few hardbacks in the last eight weeks since the arrival of the Kindle, just because browsing for eBooks has reminded me of some of my old favourites.
But in spite of my reading going into overdrive just lately I have still struggled with burnout when it comes to the work in progress. As an indie author I have to take a lot of responsibility for my work, a lesson learned right at the start when publishing was swiftly followed by unpublishing whilst I fixed the errors in formatting and sneaky typos. It would seem that I edited Psychophilia until I was drained of all writing ability, which left nothing much for the WIP once Psychophilia went off to the editor.
The last couple of weeks have been tough on the writing front. I have turned up each day and put in the hours, but nothing seemed to grow into quite what I wanted it to become. But there always comes a point when you find the right thing to inspire. Books might be my craft, they teach me about the use of words, and I digest them to provide me with renewed energy for writing. But today, stuck at home with a hellish virus and a husband with man flu taking up residency on the sofa, my writing has been easier and flowed more than the last two weeks. Maybe it's the drugs, but as far as I was aware Panadol didn't have any hallucinogens in. What I am sure it is, is music. I stuck my headphones in, cranked up the volume to the music of my youth and started listening to Slipknot, Stonesour, and Megadeth. All the music that seems frantic and far too loud for somebody with a headache. But there is an energy about this music, and a freedom of speech that isn't replicated in other music genres with the exception, maybe, of rap.
Metal, rock, whatever you want to classify it as, is full of emotion. Most times the themes of the songs are about difficulties, struggles, emotional turmoil and pain that people struggle to communicate. The feelings are raw, insular feelings ripped open and bled into the music and lyrics. Sounds much like the life of a protagonist to me. What are our characters in fiction if not representations of human struggle with which readers can connect with?
I think it is so important to read, and it would always be my first piece of advice to any aspiring author. But maybe I should also offer them something else. Find your inspiration. Whatever that is. Find what helps you to search inside of yourself for the words and the ways to express that which you are trying to get out.