I have been writing now for more years than I care to say. I am fortunate to be able to write most of the time and make a living from it, I have over the year been a journalist, poet, short story writer, columnist, fiction writer, script writer, film writer, script editor, script supervisor, magazine editor, publisher. Working for myself and for a number of publishers and production companies.
I hope by now that I am respected and that organisations like Incwriters, have shown my continued support of independent publishers in the UK and abroad and my desire to drum home the importance of reading.
I am still amazed that even today our own Government do so little to support libraries and reading within education. They don’t seem to see the importance of reading as a way to bolster communities, instil pride and give a vital skill to those seeking to learn. I come from a working class background, my parents where not rich, I never grew up with everything (and even now I care little for the latest want it now product). For me, the library, the library that my Mum took me to, helped me join, encouraged me to use opened up a world beyond the industrial landscape and suburban landscape I grew up in. To me the library was Enid Blyton, Tove Jansson, Roald Dahl, Alan Ahlberg and Harry Harrison. It was the Famous Five on a mad journey with Moomin Papa in a Chocolate Factory with the fantastical Jeremiah Obediah Jacknory Jones fighting the might and cunning of the Stainless Steel Rat. God, that was brilliant!
My love of books remains, I have shelves of them. They warm me, they remind me of worlds beyond my own.
So, I am confused when I meet poets who do not read poety, script writers who do not watch theatre, listen to radio, go to the cinema or fiction writers who simply do not read – ever. Many of you know that for me this is a major bug bear, how the hell can you write when you simply do not read? It is like asking a surgeon who has never studied medicine to remove your ruptured spleen. Mine is about to rupture with anger.
Now, I know there are many novelists who do not read when they are writing – this is different – but I do not know any succesful novelist that doesn’t read. I know a vast amount that only read non-fiction (which is still reading).
Every successful poet, writer and journalist I know, read. Why? Because it inspires them, because it interests them, because it is an important part of actually being a writer. Writers write but they read a hell of alot more.