Read On! (Seriously!)
"How do you come up with it all?" - Pat Thomas (aka 'Miss Pat')
I envy fans - I really do. She had just devoured both my current books, The Grey Isle Tale, and Rienspel over the course of New Year's Weekend. While I'm ecstatic she burned through both - I also wilted a bit inside!
Writing IS HAARRRRD.
Sure, anybody with some fingers, a brain, and some time can write... but finishing something coherent and even the least bit entertaining takes dedication and a healthy imagination. I mean, did you know it takes me writing at least one hour a day, six days a week, for at least three whole months to turn out a single rough draft?
- Oh sure, if you think that tidy little by-the-numbers summary sounded easy you are seriously deluded, my friend. Because when I'm not writing - or working my day-job - or attending St Louis Writers Guild
meetings two hours away - or feeding my pets - or spending time with my wife - or cleaning the house - or getting groceries - or playing too many video games - or doing yard work - watching Netflix - or keeping up on all my social media (and I have quite a bit to keep up on!) - I'm also...
That's right, reading. And not just any reading, either. I'm currently reading three books! At once. I always make it a habit to read at least one fiction and one non-fiction, plus I have a book I read at work over my lunch break. So, I'm currently reading The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss), and Collapse (Jared Diamond) at home, I'm also reading The Historian (Elizabeth Kostova) over lunch at work.
Reading is fun - reading expands the mind and feeds the imagination. But you gotta have the required brain-space to get anything out of it. Just like any decent computer (or otherwise), you have to have enough RAM to run the everyday stuff... and when you start to run out... things just, well... they don't work.
So, when I read say, The Name of the Wind, at home... to enjoy it - to really allow Patrick's story to soak into me, I have to spend quality time with the tale. If I'm speed reading through it - all the while worrying about the ten other things I have to do... I'm just not going to thoroughly enjoy a good read.
For example, I'm into drinking craft beer. With the good stuff, you don't just pound them... that's not the point of them. They're brewed to be enjoyed. They're distilled to be sipped over conversation with friends.
Reading the good stuff works similarly.
And not all reads are the same! When I read Diamond's Collapse I can't just go zipping through it. He's like a juicy steak. You don't wolf it down like a dog. You start with the side-salad, then on to perhaps a nibble of the mashed potatoes, and then... with a knife and fork in each hand, you sniff the mouth-watering aroma in, and then cut off a small piece and chew.
Swallow, smile, repeat.
Well-thought-out nonfiction is like that. You have to engage your mind as you follow each thought into another. You have to think about what you're reading - not just swallow it whole. By doing so, your mind is stretched and your world is slowly expanded. And to do so, you must not be too embroiled in life's stressful irrationality (unless you're reading philosophy - but that's a whole 'nother story).
With all this being said...
This is how I 'Come up with it all'.
That's how nurturing
your imagination works!
In parting, it's also important to note - in order to feed and grow your imagination, you need to be spending quality time with other people, as well as experiencing new things and places. The old adage, 'familiarity breeds contempt' could never be true-er.
So go forth and live your life well! Travel broadly, love deeply,
and (of course) read well.
Check out Ryan's current fantasy books HERE
Ryan is also a firm believer in empowering new generations of writers with school visits!
There, he'll talk about what it takes to write and publish. To help fund Ryan's efforts please visit his GoFundMe; if you would like Ryan to visit your school or other venue, shoot him an email found on the contact tab on the top of this page!