Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IWSG, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

This month's question is:  It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

I seem to have something to say on this question...

To me, writing without reading is like running without first learning to walk. Reading and writing go together like soil and plants. Inotherwords, I think it's pretty impossible not to have one without the other, they are intertwined. We learn our letters and we learn how to write them. In learning to write our letters, we learn how to read them. In learning to write our letters, we learn how to put them together into words that form sentences which teaches us how to read. In learning to read words, we learn the best way to put those words together. The more we read the better we get at putting words together. Music works much the same way. All musicians are influenced by what has gone before. All writers are influenced by what has gone before.
קלף, נוצה ודיו
If we want to be good writers I think it stands to reason that we must seek out good writers to read. It's true that not all of us will like every good writer. As an example, I'm not a fan of Hemmingway, but I love Steinbeck. And yes, for a while, I wanted very much to write like Steinbeck and made vain attempts to copy his "style." But if we read enough and we write enough eventually we find our own voices, our own styles. 

To not read for fear that your ideas won't be original is, in my mind, a kind of lie. All stories have at their root a few basic themes. Shakespeare did a very good job at showing us how to manipulate those basic themes - comedy, tragedy, revenge, love, fear, longing etc. - and write different stories around those themes. The stories we make up using those themes as our foundation are just as unlimited as the arrangement of 26 letters into words.
The first page of Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales.

Out of 8 notes, we get everything from Classical music to jazz to rock to country and everything in between. Out of 26 letters we get everything from Shakespeare to comic books and everything in between. 

If one never listens to music how will one learn about all the different ways those 8 notes can be put together? How will one know that repeating the same arrangement of notes over and over and over will be dull and boring to ears with a broader exposure? If one never reads how will one know that writing the same arrangement of words over and over and over will be boring to eyes with a broader exposure? 

Read. Write. Expose yourself to all the possibilities. Those possibilities will open the door to new possibilities and your own original ideas will emerge. Having an idea, you will arrange 26 letters in your own original way and tell a story around one of the ancient themes that is unique to you.

Being Thankful

Today I am thankful for Robyn Campbell, who died suddenly and unexpectedly this past week-end.
Robyn was among that first group of people to follow my blog. 
She read all three of my books and gave me feed-back.
She encouraged and supported my efforts.
I know she will be missed by many. Most particularly her family.
I posted this picture on her Facebook page for her birthday,
 which was just a few days before she died.
She never got to see it.

What are you thankful for? Did you know Robyn? Do you think reading is important for the improvement of your writing?


  1. Hi Bish, I agree with you that reading and writing are interconected. We can't think of writing without being readers.

  2. Good analogy with the music. How could you write a song if you didn't listen to music?

  3. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, blog follower, and supporter of your writing :(

    Love how you describe writing as an arranging of 26 letters with so many unique possibilities depending upon how we combine them.

    Cheers - Ellen

    1. I think we may sometimes forget it all starts with those basic "units" which are different in each language and yet accomplish the same thing!

  4. I also knew Robyn through her posts and connections. I felt we had a bond. We had a send virtual chocolate thing together. I was shocked at her passing. I'll miss her voice and spirit.
    I totally agree with you about reading and writing, and listening to music and creating music.
    Happy IWSG Day!
    Mary at Play off the Page

    1. I'll miss her too. So, we who are left, must carry on for her.

  5. I think you can eat without being a cook, but you certainly cannot be a cook without eating. And why would one bother? Where would the energy come from to finish a story, poem, novel or non-fiction if you didn't enjoy those yourself?
    I'm sorry your dear friend died. I have dear online friends that I have never met and I would miss them like anything if they were gone.
    I'm thankful for my sanity and my dear dear pals.

    1. Yup. I'm not much of a cook, but I do like eating and can definitely appreciate a well cooked meal. It's the same with reading a good book.

  6. Robyn has died? I am ... beyond words. But of course no words can shape how we feel when a friend dies. May your days be filled with only happy surprises the rest of this year, Roland

  7. How very sad.

    Reading expands one's thoughts and vocabulary.

  8. I can't believe that Robyn. She is one of the early bloggers I connected with. I'm glad you let us know.

    1. I think she touched the lives of a lot of us.

  9. I'm so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a special, supportive person.

    1. She was. We never met, but I felt a connection. I'm sure others did as well. That's the kind of of lady she was.

  10. I agree, there are only a few basic themes, but there are so many elements that go into a story that will make it unique.

  11. Oh my goodness. Robyn was such a kind and caring person. This is terrible news. She was one of my early readers too. Oh, this is heartbreaking...

  12. But if we read enough and we write enough eventually we find our own voices, our own styles - so true.

    Oh, that's sad Robyn passed!

  13. Hi Bish - that's desperate to read about Robyn - I feel for her, as she loved to live ... while now her family must be devastated. So sad.

    Your thoughts here are so right - love the analogies ... Shakespeare and his abilities, as too music and where those great musicians get their ideas from ... clever post - thank you ...

    With peace for Robyn and her family - Hilary

  14. I'm so sorry to hear about Robyn. That's a beautiful picture of purple flowers.

    I think reading and writing evolve a bit like the sciences. You need the background and what has happened before to move forward and create anew.

  15. I was so shocked when you sent me the notice about Robyn. So sad to lose a good writer and a good friend. She would have loved your picture tribute.

    It seems we're all on the same page when it comes to answering this question.

  16. I think that's pretty true. I had been interested in writing when I was a kid, when I struggled to read, but it wasn't until I got better at reading and really started to enjoy it when I began writing my first book.

  17. That's great advice... Life trickles into our writing.

  18. We become what we experience by reading, work and play.

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