Tag Archives: writing

As a writer, what do I read?

books

According to the quote website, goodreads.com, horror author Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. It’s as simple as that.” As much as I agree with Mr. King’s statement, I often find it difficult to read and write as much as I would like. Before it was a matter of completing my Bachelor’s degree and my workload was plenty as a double major. Now, it seems that as I am working more and preparing to pick up my entire life and move across the country in a little less than two months, I am again finding it difficult to find the time to do the two things that I love in life, read and write. I talk a lot about carving out more time for these two things, but I end up failing miserably. Anyway, I thought that it would be fun to share with you what I as a writer enjoy reading.

I mostly write Science Fiction. I do have some ideas for mainstream fiction which have never seen life beyond the pages of the notebooks where I write down all of my ideas, and of course one day, after I have earned my PhD and am teaching college for a while, I intend on writing non-fiction based on my research as well. As an author who mainly writes Science Fiction, I do not limit myself to only reading that genre. When I do read Science Fiction it’s usually the classic authors such as Philip K. Dick, Issac Asimov, H.G Wells, and for modern authors, I really enjoy the work of John Scalzi. For fiction, again, I resort to the classics. I’m a big fan of Steinbeck.

I am also a sucker for history. I very much like books that highlight a specific historical event, whether that event took place in here in the United States or in Ancient China, history simply fascinates me. Not only do I draw ideas from history for my writing, but I also think that it’s a good idea to have a good sense of history because as they say, those who don’t know it, are doomed to repeat it. I also very much enjoy biographies. Currently, I have three books which are biographies of Lyndon Johnson that are next in line on my list, one of which I am reading currently. When I need a quick read, say right before bed or I’m waiting somewhere for something, I Google random celebrities or people who have made some sort of significant difference in the world and read about their lives on Wikipedia, as factual as Wikipedia can be which I take with a grain of salt. If I’m not in the mood to read about somebody’s life, I Google a random topic that interests me, for example; recently I Googled and read the Wikipedia article about Alcatraz. I guess that makes sense seeing that I’ll be moving to California very soon.

I am also a political junkie, thus the reason one of my majors as an undergrad was Political Science and this is the subject in which I will be obtaining my PhD in, I also strongly believe that it is important forĀ all people to stay informed about what is going on not only in their own country, but all over the world. For you cannot make a decision at the ballot box if you are misinformed even though I might tell you that you are wrong on a certain issue, I will never tell you not to vote even if I don’t agree with whom you’re voting for. So, I take it upon myself to read news articles about current events and public policy again, taking with a grain of salt what the American media tells me. I also enjoy reading the blogs of my fellow authors/writers. It’s always fun to see what they are working on, or what their perspective of a particular topic is, and just to see the difference in writing style between my own and theirs. From doing this, I have come to realize that even though we all follow the grammar and punctuation rules that come with the English language, not a single one of us writes exactly the same and that is the beauty of writing.

As you can see, as a writer, I read almost everything. It’s as Stephen King said, if you don’t read, you don’t have the tools to write. To say the least, I’m glad that I was the guy who never partied in high school and only went to I think one school dance, skipping out on prom mostly because it didn’t interest me and use that time to read, read, and to write. Now if I could just find the time to write more and get some things published which I intend on doing at first independently, then I’ll feel much better.

My fellow writers or non-writers but book junkies, I ask you, what do you read?

Sometimes, you just have to risk it all and go

I live life by three quotes and they are; “Never give up”, “There is no progress without and struggle and sacrifice” and “Sacrifice everything or accomplish nothing.” I’m not sure where exactly I heard that last one, or if I simply made it up, regardless; I think it is relevant to all of our lives. Now, I have big dreams in life, the ultimate dream, only a few know about. The rest of you will have to wait until the day comes to learn what that ultimate dream is. But in order to get there, the third quote comes into play.

Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to be two things, a writer and what the ultimate dream if it came true, would make me. My first sacrifice was putting off college for a few years so that I could figure out what exactly I should study and the path I should take to get to where I want to be. This decision led to my double major in Justice Studies (a focus on social justice issues) and Political Science with an emphasis on American Government at Northeastern Illinois University. I sacrificed my time, my social life, and relationships, dedicating my time to doing an extensive amount of writing and research that most students don’t bother doing. This meant undergoing an independent study along with four other classes one semester. The independent study was worth three credit hours and graded like a typical class, for it; I wrote a thirty page paper on US immigration policy from the early 1800’s to the present day. At times, I had to sacrifice sleep working my retail job to pay the bills, doing all of the schoolwork, and on top of all of that, carrying a total of three internships on my back when only one was required. “Never give up” came to mind when I struggled with my college math courses and refused to let the material beat me. In the end, my GPA was high and put me on the Dean’s List for my final two years.

I graduated in December of 2015 and now I am sacrificing everything to accomplish my dreams and my goals. A while back, when I was still completing my Bachelor’s, a good friend whom I have known all of my life offered me a room in California where he had settled after being discharged from the Navy. At first, I turned it down because I was in love and in a relationship of four years. As that relationship entered its fifth year, the woman I loved felt that we needed to go our separate ways, as hard as it was to hear those words, and for as long as it took me to get over the breakup, I came to realize that it was for the best, for the situation in Illinois with the budget impasse and the financial and education crises that the city of Chicago is facing, has had an impact on college graduates looking for work in their respected fields of study, I being one of them and I did not invest the time and the money in college to stay in retail and stock laundry detergent my whole life. The political mess in Illinois is also taking its toll on the state’s public universities which operated for some time without budgets, and are currently running on temporary budgets, this is not good for somebody like me who seeks to obtain their PhD. With all of that said, I asked my friend in California if the offers still stands as I seek opportunity and a badly needed change. He told me, “Yes of course, the offer still stands.” Now onto why this is a huge risk and a sacrifice.

I am headed to California at the end of July with only my car which I am still making payments on, and my few belongings which consist of my clothes, and two storage totes, one filled with DVDs and the other filled with books. There is also my laptop and my cat. That’s it. I’m headed to California without a job, but at least a place to stay. I’m putting a dent in my life savings to get ahead on some of the monthly expenses so that I don’t have to worry about them for a few months as I look for work, and I am certainly putting a lot of hope in getting a job where my friend works which he says, there is a 99% chance that I will in fact get a job, but I am prepared for that 1% chance that I don’t. I am sacrificing it all in order to accomplish my dreams and my goals. I am confident that things will work out, for I always seem to find a way to make it, for I persevere and Never Give Up. I intend on taking a risk and self-publishing some of my works of Science Fiction under my own brand, even though some authors have had great success in doing this, it’s risky, for I will not have the representation and promotional resources of an agent or a well known publisher. I’m taking a big risk and making a big sacrifice, and will make further sacrifices when I attend graduate school and work towards my PhD. Once graduate school is complete, I hope to teach college for a while, research and publish within the fields of Political Science and Social Justice, to continue to write and self publish other works until the day comes to pursue that ultimate dream.

“Sacrifice everything or accomplish nothing.” certainly comes into play here, as well as the other two quotes I live by. But I’ve overcome a lot and I have been offered a golden opportunity in the Golden State of all places, ironically enough, and I must sacrifice it all in order to make my dreams come true. I realized that sometimes, you just have to pick up and go and that is what I am doing. I hope that you will do the same if it means happiness and making your dreams come true and accomplishing your goals. Nothing good comes without sacrifice and struggle. We must not fear those two things as individuals or as groups if success is lying on the horizon.