Above all else, you have to READ!

This isn’t the easiest blog post I’ve written, and I’ll try not to ramble off track too much.

READ. READ. READ.

If you were to ask an agent, editor, or published author what’s the one thing they could tell potential authors to make them better writers, you would almost get a unanimous voice screaming READ!

And yet, there are people out there who are writing even now, but not really reading. (I admit, most of my reading is done via audio book, since I drive for 10 hours a day.)

So, what’s so great about this whole ‘reading’ thing? Well, sit down and I’ll tell you. It may get long, but I’ll try to keep it concise. (It’s personal, so it may also be hella boring.)

When I was 15 years old, my son was born. When I was also 15, I left high school to get married and do what, at the time, I thought was the right thing to do: get married, get a job, raise a family. I did so, got married a week after I turned 16, and never finished the 9th grade. Hell, never really even started it. Now, I did go that year, still 16, and get my G.E.D.

And that’s it. That’s where my path of education stopped. Oh, I tried going to college online, but that only lasted two months. (Had to start working a second job, needed sleep.)

I am now 34 years old, and I’ve never either A) had the time or B) had the money (mostly this one. Actually, this one is pretty much king) to go back to school and grab a degree. Oh, I dream of it. I talk to my wife about it. I research, I get optimistic, and then it usually falls apart for one reason or another.

Now, that’s out of the way. If you’re still here, I commend you on your sense of self-torture. So, one may ask how I’m able to form complete and almost intelligent sentences. It’s not just because I have MS Word, though it’s great about telling me when I’m doing something blatantly dumb.

It’s because when I was 12 years old I stole my brother’s Dragonlance books. We’d just moved from Virginia to Louisiana. I had no friends, lived in a town that couldn’t even claim to have a stop light, and no cable/internet. (There was no internet then, at least for me. Hi there, 1992.)

I read those books. Devoured those books. I sautéed them, sprinkled them with salt, and digested every single word. I started bumming rides to the next town over for their library. At that age, I would take home my limit, 8 books I believe, to keep me going for the next two weeks. I discovered Robert Jordan, read every book as it came out in the Wheel of Time series, usually in a day or too. My appetite was voracious.

After I destroyed the fantasy section, still in love with medieval/knights/old things, I started in on… well, Harlequin Historical Romance. Loved them.

And, well, 22 years later, I still love books. Now, I said I’d probably ramble, and I did. Let me find my point.

Oh! READ! I’m just a guy who didn’t get a chance at high school OR college, and somehow, sometimes, people enjoy what I write. Just think what you guys can do if you actually finish school, go to college, learn what a preposition is and where the hell a comma is really supposed to go. I’d kill several people to have that experience, that chance at the knowledge you people have today. So gripe, complain, and bitch about the hard work. But know, there’s this old guy somewhere in Texas so jealous of you, he’s drowning his sorrow in bag of malt balls.

Ok, maybe only a few malt balls.

Love you.

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