English class for 1

I’ve always thought it important that writers read.

That sentence may sound like nonsense. Of course writers read, you say? Well, after following writing discussions for many years it’s apparent that there are would-be writers who are reluctant readers. For a variety of reasons (mostly because they don’t want to ‘taint’ their own style), they immerse themselves in their own writing rather than read someone else’s.

Emily Harstone has written a terrific article on the topic which I recommend.

For myself, I’ve always been a reader and that’ll never change.

Book cover: Canticle Creek by Adrian Hyland.

Above: Canticle Creek is one of my highly-rated recent reads.

What has changed, is I’ve become more intentional with my reading. I’ve more deliberately sought out Australian writers and I also focus on the thriller genre.

Of course, one genre gets tiresome from time to time – stories meld together – so I wander out of that into a dystopian novel or read short stories, many of which are speculative or literary.

And while I always reflect on another author’s writing – during my reading, and afterwards – recently I’ve added a new habit. I write notes about certain books, describing what they did well and not so well, and how they followed the ‘rules’ of their genre. I also note any interesting features of chapter naming and formatting.

Book cover: Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby.

Above: I adored Cedar Valley. A mystery, beautifully-written characters, not quite cosy but there somewhere …

This is quite different to my GoodReads list and any ratings and reviews I occasionally apply there. It’s a private record very much focused on what I can learn from that book. Did it work? Did it fail in some areas? Was I blown away by the brilliant writing or characterisation, and why?

I suppose it’s an English class for one, a journal that guides and inspires me. I only wish I’d begun decades ago!

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