Life is like a battle, but no one is really born a soldier. One has to train, learn how to use various weapons, and of course prepare mentally. You can’t win wars without a good leader who knows how and when the best time to fire is. And if you also don’t safeguard your stacks of ammo, you can get killed just because hiding can only save you for a while, that is if the enemy is not that persistent to exterminate your entire troop. It’s not very different from being a writer. Your knowledge is as good as the material you read, and your wisdom comes from your experiences. When you aim to conquer the world of literature, you must constantly think of ways on how you can make use of what you have learned. Many say that people who go out there and face the realities of life know better than people who only rely on books for facts. I beg to disagree. Before these facts were stated in the books, they were also real-life experiences, if not something the author witnessed himself. Even fiction novels have some essence of truth in them, evident in how they have similar patterns with what really goes on in real life. The only difference is, in fiction, everything is a little more interesting than how things normally are. Whether you write fiction or not, you always need to have some backing. What you need to do is, read as much as possible, and note down the points that you feel can be used for your own writing later on. This is stacking ammo for writers. You will never know for sure if you will be able to use them in the future, but it’s good to have reassurance from yourself that you have something you can count on when you have to.
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I rarely travel (but would most definitely love to if I have time), and I don’t have that many noteworthy experiences to share or use as raw material for my writings. However, I have written many short stories, poems and songs. I owe it all to my reading habit. Perhaps my wide imagination also had something to do with it, but, this also spawned from hearing stories my grandmother would tell me. Oh she was quite the storyteller. When I was a kid, my mom always encouraged me to read. I started with fables then eventually more complex ones. My mother loved reading too. When she was in college, she collected Sidney Sheldon books. When I ran out of books to read, I snuck into her room to steal (okay borrow) one of the books just because I couldn’t sleep, even though she strictly forbid me to at that time because it wasn’t appropriate for my age then. Somehow, after having finished reading a book, I feel like being in a crisis, asking myself ‘now, what am I going to do?’ That’s the thing with reading too. In the beginning, you relate to a character because you have something in common. As you read on, you realize you have nothing in common with the character, but you want to. So when the story ends, you feel like your life ended as well. For me, whenever I feel like I don’t agree with how the author ended the story, I write my version of it. Sometimes, I write a completely different story, but it has some influence from the last book that I have read.
A good writer must also be a good reader. Let the authors who came before you pass on what they know. During their time, some were considered as visionaries. Critics here and there say that what their ambition is for the following generations is a joke because they can never be certain of how the future is going to be like. But look at us today, we live in new times, but we still look back into the past for something that can support or strengthen our own ambitions for the generations after ours.
“Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.” – Alberto Manguel