I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. In second grade we were given lists of words for our spelling homework and I remember using them to write stories for my homework. In fact, it was my second grade teacher who first taught me about the proper placement of punctuation when using quotation marks.
I’ve always been a voracious reader, too. Give me anything from a magazine to a British classic and I’ll have made a dent in it somehow. Reading sustains me in a way. It broadens my imagination and allows me to view a the world as bigger than my own. It the one hobby I’ll never give up on.
As I got older I started sharing some of my work. I started publishing Fanfiction when I was about fifteen, took creative writing classes in college, and genuinely became more comfortable sharing my written work with others. I looked forward to feedback and implemented the critiques of my peers to improve my writing. I’ve even published some of my work to this blog.
However I must admit that I very rarely read the work of other amateurs like myself. As much as I love reading books and obsess over the feedback on my own forays into the literary world, I can’t really bring myself to read the writing of someone else at my own skill level.
That probably sounds arrogant, and it is a little. How can I reasonably expect that someone will enjoy my work, if I won’t also read there? Well, the truth is that there’s something to be said for my own lack of finesse as a writer. So isn’t it arguably safe to assume that other amateurs experience the same problem? We have many ideas and tons of words, but very rarely achieve a higher quality of storytelling. Amateur work, including my own, rarely makes for an enjoyable read. I’d rather just find a published book to entertain myself with.
However the real reason I don’t read much amateur fiction is much more logical. To put it bluntly, I don’t want to accidently plagiarize or steal a bit of someone else’s idea. Because if what you read becomes a part of what you know, then inevitably that will trickle down into what you write. For that reason my best ideas will never see the light of this blog and I will do my best to avoid reading someone else’s completed amateur fiction pieces. I don’t want to borrow – even subconsciously – and I don’t want to be borrowed from.