Reading to Inspire Writing

I’ve been working like a machine these past three months, writing and rewriting. Collectively I’ve written about 30,000 words unpolished. I guess that’d be about 10,000 a month but I think I can write even more than that, now I’m thinking about it. How about 10,000 a week? Is that crazy? Maybe. Probably

I haven’t been happy with my work reading it back. I’m pretty judgmental right off the bat and if I read something I hate, I’m happy to cross it out and write “EW wtf is this?” in the column. I hit a wall two weeks ago with my work and I realized I needed to start reading again. I’m a terrible reader. I’ve got four books in my flat right now that I’ve read half of. A Hundred Years of Solitude because it’s magical realism, Neverwhere because it’s fantasy based in London, The Master and Margarita because it's about the devil, and Crowboy because it’s fantasy based in Edinburgh. These are all books I should read but can't get through.

I ended up googling “best books written in first person” and American Psycho popped up. I really enjoyed the simplicity of Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. I love books that cut open reality and dissect it. No superheroes, no mythical creatures, no old men talking to cats. I picked up American Psycho and knew after page 2 that it was my kind of book.

I don’t think writers ever aim to imitate their heroes, but pull inspiration from them. I needed that book to tell me it was okay to write what I was writing. That’s the weird thing about creative writing—can it be taught? Can it be graded? No, not really. I accepted that going into my masters program.

It doesn't matter what grade you get, as long as you believe in your work, someone else will too. Stand by it. (Unless you want to get into a PhD program, then yeah, grades matter unfortunately.)

Let me reel this in before I go too off-topic. My 30,000 words were in first person POV and past tense. I sat down and looked at it on a Tuesday morning and whispered “Fuck” loud enough for my friend beside me to give me a side-long glance. I wanted to start over and rewrite everything in present tense. That’s what was missing—the immediacy of each word. My character talking as everything happens to her, thoughts come and go, decisions made before thinking them over.

By Thursday I managed 10,000 words rewritten. #baller, right?

I have Bret Easton Ellis to thank for this inspiration. What authors inspire you? Please comment below and let me know.