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READIN’ & WRITIN’
One’s reading choices vary from time to time and, for writers, it’s often difficult to avoid the influence of a style of writing that is considerably different from their own.
Even when working on a writing project of my own I constantly read the work of others.
I can’t help it.
Sometimes I even read on a Kindle. There, I’ve admitted it.
But I do it where no one can see me. I can’t help that, either.
But let’s move on.
Lately, my reading choices have focused on several books that have to do – specifically or peripherally – with the Holocaust, Jewish people and the creation and continuing existence of Israel.
Kind of surprising for a Midwestern Methodist boy.
Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating topic and some of the books I’ve read include: The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman, The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Mitla Pass and Mila 18 by Leon Uris, War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk, some of Bernard Malamud’s early writing, bits and pieces of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, and other various material.
I don’t know why. It just happened.
It also just happened that much of what I’ve been working on is set in the Midwest and in Hollywood. Quite a stretch.
But I believe the obvious “distance” between these reading and writing topics has not been distracting. In fact, because the subjects are so dissimilar I can completely detach one from the other and not let my reading interfere with my writing, or the other way around.
Still, reading good writing on any subject has to have some kind of influence on how I write. The subject can be cannibalism for all I care. If the writing is good there are probably some kernels of insight that will prove valuable in a sentence or two of my own (not plagiarism, mind you, but phrasing or technique).
The point? I will continue reading while I’m writing and damn the subject. If it’s interesting and the writing is excellent, I’m into it.