New writers hear it all the time. Good writers are good readers. Read all the time. Never stop reading.
So when did I stop reading?
I'm gonna have to blame college. Pre-college I had spending money (spelled A-L-L-O-W-A-N-C-E), I had time (spelled N-O-J-O-B) and I had no friends (spelled L-O-S-E-R).
During college, I had money only for textbooks, a whole dormful of people who started to become interesting the longer we spent together, and a brain full of my own story ideas demanding to be written on my newly purchased for college laptop computer.
TT: If only I'd had the maturity I have now, I would have finished those stories then instead of revisiting them now. Oh well. I choose to believe those stories will find new depths. Yeah, that could be arrogance talking.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I stopped reading altogether. I read about 6 textbooks in their entirety in my 6 years of college, and most of those were for the same class.
I could also blame Mr. Freidline, I suppose, from 7th grade. He was the first teacher who made me write a book report that included a critique. I remember telling him I wasn't qualified to judge someone else's writing. He said I was the only one qualified to give my opinion about it.
Wrong thing to teach me. That's when my "journey of disgust" began, but it took college to really get me climbing that mountain of disdain.
I have become that "two pages or else" reader. Pre-college I always finished a book, thinking if someone took the time to write it, the least I could do is read it. No more. I have thrown books away after a chapter. I don't tolerate inconsistency, poor grammar or stupid characters anymore. I called that an "occupational hazard" in an earlier post.
I doubt I'll find much argument that the quality of literature as a whole has declined in the last 15 years. Many books nowadays are garbage, plain and simple. I blame the writers, of course. When you write from a post-modern worldview of "nothing matters" and "everything is meaningless including grammar," your writing will be garbage.
Cost was another factor. Pre-college books were $2.95 or $3.95. Post-college books were $7.95 and part of a series of 12. That's a lot of money to invest in something I might throw away after 20 pages.
You might argue I could go to the library, but I've explained before I keep books I like. You can't keep library books, and most of them are out of print, which leaves me out of luck. Why would I do that to myself?
And the topics! Again, the post-modern worldview shows up as immorality as a matter of course, unquestioned macro-evolution in the sci-fi realm and goddess/pantheism in the fantasy realm, and I can't blame myself for not reading anymore.
At least, I couldn't.
See, college was where I got broke and gained friends. Now I'm alone and occasionally have a little spending money. I've discovered some good writers are out there if I'm willing to look for them (my thanks to Splashdown Books and Marcher Lord Press for giving them a chance). My only reason for not reading now is I'm out of the habit.
And FV is free.