I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post for a long time now, but recent events have crystallized my thoughts on the matter. It’s time I confess this TERRIBLE SECRET. This secret that I’ve kept ever since I debut as an author over a year ago. A secret that will change EVERYTHING.
I hope by this point you’ve realized this isn’t actually a terrible or dark secret at all, but it’s an interesting point of discussion disguised with some excellent clickbait. Without furthering the wait, let’s get into it: before this week, I hadn’t read a book since 2014.
Before we move on, I’ll clarify a few points. I have purchased plenty of books since then, but they have been sitting neatly on my bookshelf collecting dust. Also, I have listened to some books via Audible. That counts at least a bit, right? They were not new books, though: it was a backlog of books I owned in print and hadn’t read. And this was in 2015, so that’s not much better. (For those curious, it was the Kilo-5 trilogy of Halo books by Karen Traviss, which are fantastic, and books 3-5 of Game of Thrones). The last books that I read with my own eyeballs were To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, and A Game of Thrones. The first two because I never read them in high school and wanted to know what they were all about, and the last because I had watched the show and needed more.
In the summer of 2014, I had just graduated from college and was on the job hunt. There wasn’t much in the field of Bioengineering in my hometown, and looking for jobs out of state was a bit daunting, but I was lucky enough to get a temporary position at a nearby pressboard mill by the end of the summer. This particular position was as an Environmental Health and Safety intern; the EH&S director had recently retired, and the new hire needed some extra help, so that’s where I fit in. In practice, I ended up being a spare set of hands for anybody around the office, whether that was EH&S, accounting, receptionists, or anybody else.
This left me with a lot of downtime between helping people, and I rekindled my childhood passion for reading. When I was a kid, I read all the time. My first real foray into fantasy was the Deltora Quest series, which was about 12 books long at the time. I moved onto the Seventh Tower series after that, but by that point, I needed something a bit meatier to sink my teeth into: Harry Potter just wasn’t cutting it. Enter J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Paolini. Lord of the Rings was perhaps a bit too big of a bite to take, but the grand scale of the story blew my mind. Similarly, reading Eragon for the first time showed me what modern high fantasy could really be, and I couldn’t get enough.
I started reading less after graduating high school. College was relatively busy, and reading was the first hobby I cut. Until my brief reading stint after graduating, the passion stagnated, and then quickly returned to stagnation when I switched jobs in early 2016 and had less time (and money) for audiobooks. The hiatus lasted all the way up until April 5th, 2021, when I found myself without internet for an entire evening (the horror!).
So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, I think it’s interesting, that’s why! One of the biggest tips I see in the writing community is that if you want to get better in your own writing, you should read other people’s writing. I agree with that, to a degree. If I hadn’t read so much fantasy as a child, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. There’s a certain feeling, or language, or…essence, I suppose, to writing fiction that you can’t figure out just by doing it yourself. But, once you’ve captured enough of that essence, do you need to keep reading every day in order to improve? I don’t think so. If you have a strong foundation, I firmly believe you can continue to improve just by writing. You can find out what works for you, and what doesn’t, all without getting that style from someone else. If you rely too heavily on learning from other authors, I think you fall into more of an imitative mindset rather than an iterative one.
With all of that being said, I actually intend to keep reading, though more for pleasure and less for “writing research”. When I found myself without internet this week, it was the perfect opportunity to start again. I had a huge collection of books to choose from, and little else to do: no streaming services, no new blu-rays to watch, no offline games to play, and no Google Drive to write in my own story. And I’m glad I chose to read! I picked up Volume 1 of @d_s_craig‘s series “Reincarnated as a Familiar”, and a had a great time reading through it. Luckily, I have the rest of what is currently published, so I’ll probably dive into those sooner rather than later.
As I said before, I’ve certainly been purchasing books despite the fact that I haven’t read any of them. I’ve done my best to support other indie authors in the same scene as myself, despite the fact that I’m rather antisocial on my social medias (is that ironic?). If you’re looking for a new series to start, consider looking up @jio_kurenai, @BrandonBVarnell, or @DigitalGod7. That’s who I’ll be reading next! (Apologies if I didn’t list you here, I have a large backlog to read through from dozens of indie authors!)
Alright, another long ramble down! If you made it this far, congratulations; you’ve made it to the update on my own projects! Volume 4 is well underway, currently sitting at just over 38K words. Volume 3 is still being edited and illustrated; I anticipate getting both the artwork and the revisions back to me by the end of this month, which makes me think that we’ll see an official release by mid to late May, or June at the very latest. I’m excited to get everyone the next volume of Restart Again as soon as possible; I definitely think Volume 3 is my best work so far!
It certainly feels better getting such a terrible secret out there. Wink. I’m going to keep reading for the time being; maybe when I’ve finished reading my first batch of books, I’ll post what I’m reading next, but that will most likely be a brief update on Twitter and not a full blog post (follow me there! @RA_Adam_Ladner). Until then, go enjoy a new book, and as always, thanks for reading!