Every day we are bombarded by information on social media about new fiction; top lists almost exclusively contain recent books. As much as we need to be in the zeitgeist of the literary world as writers and readers, we need to remember about our bases and origins. Old and classics are often undeservingly perceived as boring or outdated.
A writer needs to be more holistic in her vision of life and therefore has to read broadly. But what happens if you just read your contemporaries?
It is like trying to understand nature surrounding us without being aware of millions of extinct organisms and ecosystems, like dinosaurs and Cretaceous forests. Imagine modern biology without the concept of evolution.
Human society has been evolving for millennia, so knowing how this happened is like managing a colossal cultural data bank, which would make anyone including a writer extremely resourceful.
Nowadays you don’t have to spend money to get access to all these riches. You can just go to your local library and pick up virtually any book of a Master you want. If you are lazy like me, you can find all of them on the web, download them and even convert them for your Kindles, Nooks and other eReaders.
I suppose many writers come from grammar schools and they read some of Hellenic and Latin texts in translation, and classical English and French books. Yet, literature is wider.
There are English translations of Spanish, Russian, Jewish, Polish, Japanese, you-name-it masterpieces of all times.
You are (as a writer) what you read. If you want to be a person with distinct point-of-view or a writer with distinct voice, you need to stop reading exclusively from the bestseller lists and watch all the same TV shows. Your creativity and imagination needs to step on lands less explored, but it needs to come prepared. Hence, learning from the Masters makes the writer’s soil (soul) fertile.
All the great minds have arisen from the great minds preceding them.
Be the next one.
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton
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