Writer J Randayle Greyson thinks so. After getting an e-mail from her, I surfed to her site at http://thesurvivalmama.blogspot.com/ where I found this quote: “I like to be selective about who I read when I’m writing, but especially when I’m editing.” You can catch the rest of the article on her tab [Read. Reading. Writing.]
I’ve always known the subject matter of my reading influenced what I wrote. I was into artificial intelligence and spacetime physics when I wrote the early drafts of what became books one, four and five of the Okal Rel Saga and there’s more science in those three than the other books. I am also aware of how my affair with the evolutionary psychology of sex influenced the creation of Vrellish culture. But content is one thing, and the writer’s craft is another.
J Randayle Greyson was thinking in terms of prose style, not content, if I’m reading her correctly.
What do you think? Does your vocabulary get simple if you read too many children’s books. Or maybe reading Dickens makes you more verbose? If so, should we read books as close as possible, in tone, to the one we want to produce? That would be sad. At least, I think the narrowing of focus brought on by the narrowing of niches sacrifices too much richness and depth of experience. But perhaps magpie interests and eclectic reading habits are things writers can no longer afford? Last but not least, does what you are reading have more influence on you as a writer, or as an editor? Presuming, of course, that you do both.
Please reply with your thoughts on this topic. Examples are always encouraged. And if you have ideas for future installments of the Writer’s Craft, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word CLARION in the subject so we can get started on working them up together.