Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Spent the Night Reading

And Not Even For a Workshop…

Yes, I always tell writers they must read for pleasure, but then never talk about my own reading here much.  Granted, I did mention reading a number of times when working on the 1.3 million words for the anthology workshop.

But past that, I just think of reading for pleasure as something I sort of do all the time. Most in bits and pieces.

I am a paper reader. I don’t own a reading device, although there are a number of them scattered around the house. I do own an iPad, but never use it for much of anything. And I do read workshop assignments on my computer.

I have nothing against electronic reading. All of my books are published electronically as well as in paper. I just exercise the freedom that all readers have these days to pick my preferred form.

Plus I am a collector. And since you own nothing when you license an electronic book, that feels odd to me. I want the artifact. Nothing to do with reading, just the collector side coming out is all.

I would never do a Recommended Reading list like Kris does every month on her blog. I’m not that organized.  I never keep track of what I read. I just read.

But I can tell you that just lately I’m reading a nonfiction book about early paperback publishers in Britain. Amazing stuff about writers in there. And I just finished a Cussler book in one of his side series that I had bought a number of years back and forgotten about.

And writers who attend the coast workshops here often send us signed copies of their books. I read two of those in the last month. (No, not saying which ones.)

I am also reading through old Pulphouse Magazine issues for stories I might want to bring forward through twenty-some years like a time machine. (More money to the authors.) And there is an entire book of stories I bought for Pulphouse, but then we shut the magazine down before I could get them in the magazine. Jerry Oltion collected them all in a book. Working through that as well.

And I am forgetting other stuff I am sure. As I said, reading for pleasure for me is critical.

It is critical for all writers to read for pleasure.

So tonight I decided to admit I was reading, not only one of Kris’s wonderful new books, which I was, but some other stuff.

And by admitting I was reading, Kris has now fallen over in a dead faint. I was trained by parents who didn’t think reading had any value at all. None. So I had to hide the fact that I read anything as a kid. And that habit has stuck with me.

But what the hell. I was reading great stuff tonight. And I enjoyed it.

So there…


  • Cora

    Thanks for the reminder Dean. I need to remember every day how blessed I was to grow up with my fantastic parents. Voracious readers. Of all genres. I read my first ‘grown up’ book when I was about 7 or 8. My Dad’s dog-eared copy of H Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy. It’s not hoarding if it’s books, right? Our local library loves us as we pass along the stuff we don’t want to keep. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like had I not been surrounded by books of all sorts.

  • Harvey

    Timely, as usual.

    There’s a great article at I recommend it, especially for writers.

    My comment on the article is this:

    Reading is important, even essential. However, I would never label anyone ‘aliterate’ because they choose to read (strictly for entertainment) James Patterson or Dean Wesley Smith or Kristine Kathryn Rusch or Harvey Stanbrough instead of what the author apparently considers ‘great literature.’ Indeed, readers SHOULD read for entertainment, whatever they choose to read.

  • Gnondpom

    Thanks Dean for being honest! Your admission, as well as your constant advice of reading for pleasure, is helpful for me who also tend to feel somewhat guilty when I’m reading, while I could be doing something more useful (there is always so much on my to-do list, so I feel that I shouldn’t be “losing time” reading). But I do feel better when I can read, and taking care of myself is also important. And of course for writers it is extra important.

  • Sean McLachlan

    I think it’s vital for busy writers to leave time to read for pleasure. It can so easily get lost in the shuffle, especially when you do nonfiction and historical fiction like me and have to read research books. Actually I love that too (I used to be an archaeologist and still have a wide academic streak) but it’s fun to curl up with something that has absolutely nothing to do with what I write.
    Right now I’m reading Otared by Mohammad Rabie. It’s a brilliantly written and starkly grim dystopian novel set in Cairo in 2525. One of the best books I’ve read in the past year.
    For a while you were doing posts about old time authors and their methods. I hope you continue that!

    • dwsmith

      Really? I thought those articles about the old writers just depressed people. Well, I got a couple I’ll talk about shortly.

      • Stefon Mears

        I enjoy reading about the old pulp writers. Those guys are inspirational. Along those lines, I just finished The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. Man, that was a hoot.

        Do you know has anyone written anything about Lester Dent or Walter Gibson that would be along the lines of Pulp Jungle?

        • dwsmith

          I sure don’t. They get mentioned at times in other history books, but nothing like what Gruber did in The Pulp Jungle.

      • Gnondpom

        No, those articles were not depressing, they were inspirational! And especially interesting for people who didn’t grow up in the pulp area and don’t know much about those authors, it opens up a whole different world than so-called literary fiction.

        And it also sheds a new light to the process of writers who are now considered classics but used to be very prolific, that’s not the narrative literature teachers usually give (the idea that you should write and rewrite and rewrite one masterpiece, not practice by writing a lot).