“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
Oh, yes. It is a blunt, grubby little crayon too.
Kurt Vonnegut was the first male author I truly loved as a teenager. I’ve always identified more with what women authors have to say, but Vonnegut grabbed me and made me laugh and think and laugh some more.
Right now I’m re-reading authors I admire to see how they do what they do so well. Often they are authors I didn’t understand at all when I first read them (Faulkner, Forster). It’s a great exercise for an author to read the work of others in order to see what in it is lasting, what has an impact, what makes it a classic. If you are a writer, one of the most important things you can do is read every day, widely, in many genres, with an eye toward appreciating what is effective and what isn’t in each piece you read.
A really good novel needs to be read at least twice, because the first time, it will draw you into the story so completely, you won’t be able to read it with a critical eye. This might be true the second time too. I’ve read my all-time favorite novel, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, at least 5 times and still get swept up in it every time. I’ve yet to read it with a critical eye.