"But I Don't Have Time to Read"

Amazingly, I hear writers say this often. Wrapped up in their own stories or the dramas of everyday life, they have lost sight of the sheer joy of being sucked into the pages of a well-crafted tale.

Frankly, I don't get it. How can anyone expect to succeed as a writer without reading voraciously, obsessively, and joyfully? Reading current releases teaches us where out writing fits in with what's happening in the world of publishing. Through reading, we determine which part of the bookstore (memoir? genre? literature?) would best suit our current work, which publishing house's sensibilities are most in line with our own, even which agents and editors have worked on books whose readers we believe would like our writing. (Hint: Pay attention to the Acknowledgments, where most authors thank their agent and editor.)

Reading is more important than surfing the 'Net, attending writers' workshops, or even critiquing. If you don't nurture the love of books that first sparked your desire to write, the flame is very likely to sputter and go out.

I've been busy, busy, busy lately. But at the top of my To-Do list is finishing the wonderful book I've started. Then and only then will my writer's heart feel all is right with the world.

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