New Writers Ask: What are the Advantages of Reading Books in My Genre?
I recently had the opportunity to connect with some new writers and was surprised at one of the conversational themes ... "Should I bother reading books in the genre I write?"
Um... YES! 100x yes - so much so that this is the SECOND blog post I am writing on the subject!!
Apologies... sometimes I get over-excited. I cannot tell you how very important it is to read as a writer - and I believe there is no better course, no more important education, no more powerful training tool than to read what you want to write.
When I gave this (overly emphatic) response, I watched confusion roll over the faces of the writers chatting with me.
"But won't I just end up copying them?"
NO! Although, to be fair, the answer is more likely I hope not.
"How am I supposed to be original if I just read what other people have written?"
(I may have gotten a little flustered at this point. The people who know me best know I'm ... passionate and have a tendency to get a little spicy when pushed.) Do you mean to tell me that you think the best way to learn to drive a car is to avoid all cars until you have the keys in your hand and you are ready to hit the road? Or did you learn the alphabet by making up your own letters? Or did you learn to tie your shoes by becoming a cobbler and creating NEW shoes with NEW means of holding them closed without ever .....
Yeah. I may have lost my mind in there.
Long and short - why recreate the wheel? We are creatives. Creatives need inspiration. We need to stock our ponds. We need to plant seeds and watch them grow - and baby, you find seeds in the work of those who blazed a trail before you.
(The metaphors are getting thick and twisted in this one... yeesh....)
So here's what I really think...
Connecting with other authors who write erotica is key - Reading what they write and how it is written is inspirational and educational. It is easy to fall into a comfortable rhythm when writing, and when writing erotica most of all. Writing about intimacy, sensuality, and sex can become repetitive if I become complacent with the artistic input.
In The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron talks about ‘filling your well’ by seeking out inspiration. Sometimes this is as simple as getting out of the office, into nature, taking a walk, and going to an art gallery or museum. But often it means reading.
As Stephen King says in his memoir On Writing:
“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write."
So I read.
I read romance for the sweetness, I read horror for the violence and I read erotica because I write erotica.
Listening to other authors' voices helps me find - and hone - my own.
Plus there are only so many words for our body parts, so many ways of describing sexual acts, and without reading how others do it (no pun intended) I would be ‘reinventing the wheel’ rather than standing on the shoulders of giants. Or I would swiftly spiral into the monotony of lady garden and man root - not that they don't have their place, but try ping-ponging between those two for 15 pages and see how steamed up you get.
The most important erotic books in my repertoire
The Sinners on Tour series by Olivia Cunning
This hot hot hot Rock star fantasy is well written, with rich, deep characters and love stories frosted in steamy sex, wild adventures, and a human element that both surprised and delighted me. The author took the rockstar fantasy and made it real by dealing with topics from drug addiction, to abuse, violence, domestic and childhood abuse, and more.
A dusty old pulp fiction erotic cowboy book ...
My first erotic novel. I found this book when I was 13. I cannot remember what it was called, but I feel like it was part of a long series... maybe called Longmire, or Lonestar... We were living in a hospital in Calgary, while my grandfather was very sick and I was too scared and uncomfortable to visit him. I hid in the TV room and found a stack of dusty old dog-eared novels that ran through Western issues like cattle rustling and land disputes while following the sensational exploits of two deliciously sensual MCs. I don’t remember their names, and could probably not find the books again in a million years. Chances are they are lining shelves of thrift stores everywhere, but they made a huge impression. In addition to being entertaining, and oh so naughty, I remember the female MC was sexually liberated and stood in her sexual power.
The Sleeping Beauty Series by Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure.
I discovered Exit to Eden first - about the time they made a mockery out of it with a ridiculous - but no less humorous- movie staring Rosie O’Donnel and Dan Acroyd. The Exit to Eden movie was seriously cheesy, but I was young, and pretty much everything sexy was fascinating to me). So I found the book - though where I found it, I cannot remember… possibly the library? I was about 16 and the book changed my world.
I learned about S&M, entire encyclopedias of kink, and alternative lifestyles that were utterly foreign to me until I read the tale of a man who volunteers himself as a slave for a year on this tropical island. Well, I was hooked. At 17, I moved to London England, and set off to the library looking for more sassy books, like Exit to Eden…
When looking for more books by the author, I discovered the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy (now a series with the release of the 4th book, Beauty's Kingdom). I will never forget the look on the librarian's face when I asked her for the first book, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. I remember her saying, "We keep those books in the back." I smiled and waited and then she eventually brought out the books that would take me into a whole world of sex, lust, passion, pain, pleasure, and opulence - a kingdom of fantasy by every definition.
These books filled in the gaps in my understanding of the world around me. I was a small-town girl, taking her first step into the big wide world. I was finding my voice, my identity, and my freedom, and these books all played a role in getting me from there to here.
So, lean in. Read.
Do not fear mimicry - enjoy the inspiration.
Listen to the stories others have told so you can find your own.
In the end, isn't that what we all want? To read a great story? Even if you have to write it yourself.
I wish you excellent books, and the wisdom to read what you love to write. I'm going to take my own advice and go find my next uber steamy read. Till next time...
Curious what reading all that erotica inspired?
Regina Grimm is the author of erotic fairytales, written for the uninhibited readers 18+. Check out her books - Snow White and the Wicked Curse: Chapter 1, Snow White and the Vicious Curse: Chapter 2, Snow White and the Seven Thieves: Chapter 3, and the final chapter, Snow White and the Poisoned Apple. Prefer to read the whole story at once? Grab your copy of Snow: The Complete Erotic Series now!
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