At a recent gathering of friends, my best friend’s fiance made a statement at breakfast that made me think about how I get my inspiration. He said:
“Writers never read in their own genre for fear of contaminating their writing. It’s a fact.”
Um. Is it a fact? Because I don’t see any statistics posted on this topic. Let me just make a few points from my OWN experience.
1. I’ve never met a writer who has only written in one genre.
2. I’ve met at least a handful of writers who get irritated that their writing has to be classified as a genre. (Mostly because certain bits of fiction are hard to categorize, not so much for a hatred of labels. Labels aid in marketing after all.)
3. As far as I’ve experienced, it’s essential for a writer to read within and outside of the genre s/he is currently writing, if only just to see what’s been done to death. Combining and twisting genre barriers is a great way to get a fresh spin on something that has been done to death, and how can you do that if you don’t get a wide sampling of what’s out there?
Books are not the be all and end all of inspiration, either!
Movies, music, art, and life are all massive contributors to my plot soup! And why shouldn’t they be?
For instance, I’m watching Inkheart right now because I loved the book, and I have a ridiculous crush on Paul Bettany — the movie gives me the best of both worlds. It inspires me, not to plagiarize the story or the bare idea, but to breathe that kind of believability, conviction, and life into my characters! Sometimes I watch a movie or read a book, and think, “This is the feel I’m going for–if I strike out this, this, and this, and add a little this, that, and the other thing.”
Artists, writers, musicians… they create to inspire. I see no reason to deny them that because I’m too afraid I’m not capable of creating something of my own mind and heart.
“I’d rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer.”