Keeping up with the classics

October 23, 2016

Reading has always been one of my biggest hobbies. In a major way, it’s why I got into writing. As any good writer is wont to do, I read as much as I can, constantly upping my game.

But I’ve got a confession to make. I’m not the best reader in the world.

Don’t get me wrong. My reading skills are above average. I can’t speed read, but I do know how to read the English language. The problem is, I haven’t read all the books and stories I’m “supposed” to read.

Over the years, I’ve had a running list of stuff I should read, the classics and inspirational books that all the greats swear by. Some I’ve read, and most I couldn’t stand. Some were awesome and I can’t get enough. Reading Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories inspired me to do more with my writing than anything else that I’ve ever read!

Well, there should have been others. Most importantly, Elric and the Lankhmar tales. Everyone I know who’s big into fantasy, specifically sword & sorcery, will eagerly tell you how awesome this stuff is. In fact, an editor I’m working with right now told me that a lot of my writing, especially Clay & Styg, are very similar to those specific characters.

If anyone ever tries to claim I ripped off someone else’s characters or ideas, specifically Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, I can honestly claim ignorance since I’ve never read them.

Soon, I will. I found a copy of some Elric stories, and I have a few Lankhmar tales as well. I’m very eager to dive in, despite them being written many years ago. Why is that a problem? The “rules” of writing that have been drilled into my head since taking up this never-ending battle of getting words on paper are rarely, if ever, present in these older works. Adverbs, telling instead of showing, and very VERY long run-on sentences are just some of the issues I have with these.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect, and I break “rules” too. In fact, sometimes these rules don’t even need to be followed. But since I’m so aware of it, it’s hard to follow sometimes when the writing is very clunky, at least by today’s standards. I’ll survive, though, and get through it. After all, isn’t it more about the story than the writing?

The biggest thing that scares me, however, isn’t the quality of writing. It’s the list that keeps growing of all of this stuff. I know I don’t have to do anything, but I like to expand my horizons. There are so many “classic” works that I’m eager to read, but that adds to the list of newer stuff as well. Hey, why don’t I read a classic and then a newer work? What a great idea!

The point I’m making is, I feel like much of the original stuff should come first. But then again, what does it matter? As long as I’m reading and/or writing something I want to, why should I care what comes out of it? I’ve been inspired by just as much new stuff as old, so will it matter if I complete my required reading list before I do anything else?

Nope. And I had a lot of fun along the way.

In the comments, tell me some stuff you think I should write. What’s a good fantasy/sword & sorcery story/book/series that I might benefit from? I’m looking forward to your choices!


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