Before I ever dreamt of seriously writing, I used to read all the time. I read everything. Even shampoo and conditioner bottles while in the shower (how much fun I had trying to pronounce all those impossible ingredients!). Everything.
When I was about 16 years old, I was tested and told I could read and retain at over 500 wpm. I know not if that's impressive, average or even pretty slow, but I know it made me feel pretty special to know. That number seemed quite high back then!
Recently, with the advent of the smart phone and tablets for entertainment, I found I didn't read nearly as much. I would rush through my shower just to end up sitting idly playing some silly game on my phone. No reading involved. Sad times.
Since I made the decision to write a story, however, that has changed. Slowly but surely, I am reading more and more. I am getting back into my old habits of picking up anything that's covered in text and finding out whatever information I can.
I'm still not back up to the consumption levels of my late twenties, before smart phones, but I'm well on my way.
And, by coincidence, I appreciate reading so much more now. I appreciate taking the time to absorb text, to take time away from the reality of commutes, waiting rooms, boring parties. I treasure those sweet, stolen moments.
I also appreciate reading fiction more than ever because I now have a much greater appreciation for the amount of work, the amount of imagination that is shovelled into birthing that new world from the synapses that course through a human brain.
Developing a new world myself and having to deal with the minutia that it entails (for example, changing the name of one character devolved into three hours of deciding what the naming rules were in my baby of a world and, essentially, renaming all-but-one of my characters)!
The rules that are created within a new world needn't be spelled out, but they must be consistent, they must be as complex as any of the rules which exist in familiar worlds and when they are, they are splendid.
I just read a fantasy novel by an author I follow on Twitter and the entire time I read it, a small part of the back of my brain was learning tricks of a craft I long to hone within myself. I read the subtext of the rules the author had chosen for their world and marvelled at their ability to not only come up with them, but at the detail to which they applied those rules. Subtle but pervasive, the author's rules were deep, multi-layered and touched upon everything, every single nuance the author captured in their story followed those rules.
I hope to be that adept some day, or at least that my writing causes me to appear adept. In the meantime, I will continue to grow my appetite for the printed word and as I read, I will write and as I write, I will read. My appreciation for both growing with every word.