After most of my personal inner struggles were out of the way and all the dust seemed to settle, I was left with the lucid fact I wanted to write high fantasy. My goal had become ‘to complete a book I could enjoy writing and be proud of – publishers be damned!’ So I pressed onward.
Books on authoring typically claimed the next step for the aspiring writer was the tired old cliche: “Read, read, read”. Read fiction. Non-fiction. The phone book. The backs of cereal boxes. Everything.
Furthermore, I apparently needed to read a lot of selections from my chosen genre in order to get a feel for what typically works, what typically doesn’t, what used to work but no longer does, what typically sells the most and sells the least, what would be considered ‘beating a dead horse’, etc. A good deal of that is a matter of personal opinion. But there is always a reason or two behind why any given book has ‘stay power’, and it was my job to have a firm grasp on those reasons if I ever wanted to become a serious writer…
What a snag! The cruel truth was staring me square in the face in black and white print. “Read, read, read” was echoing endlessly in my mind. My teenage logic had left me in some kind of temporal flux where I had somehow managed to boycott reading for years. Well … I read the backs of cereal boxes. I even did those fun mazes. And found all the hidden Lucky Charms shapes from time to time. Actually, my teen years weren’t a total literary wash; I read lots of comic books back then. Namely the more sophisticated non-super hero stuff (erm … You know … sophisticated … comic books … yeah). Stuff like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Sam Keith’s The Maxx, and other various alternative comics and graphic novels. And, like any good grunger teen, I kept up with all the indie movies and played through many vRPGs instead of doing my homework. All those book reports I had to do in high school? Nothing more than documents I typed back in seventh and eighth grade (or were based off of cliff notes). But there was no going back in time and handing my past-self a high fantasy novel. Nobody could put the knowledge I needed in my head but me. And nobody said becoming a professional writer was going to be easy. In fact, everybody said it would be hard. Maybe even impossible. Well, I don’t believe it’s impossible. Not even for a second. So, facing this barely scalable brick wall, I had two choices: I could either run away from the idea of becoming a writer with my tail between my legs, or I could view this as another necessary challenge to overcome, and figure out some way to catch up.
Well, I’m proud to say I ended up meeting that challenge and, more or less, caught up.
As I read more books, I will keep that list updated.