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Reading creates the ripe ground for better writing. When you are reading a great writer you are spending quality time with him or her. You are assimilating the qualities of the writer. In Hindi there is a concept called Satsang which means spending time in the company of the virtuous. Plato too in his various treatises has advised to spend as much time as possible with philosophers and thinkers because their wisdom, even if you don’t actively participate in the debate, rubs onto you and you become a better person, a better writer in this context.

Reading also stimulates thoughts and ideas. When you read you think and when you think you want to write about it. It can be as simple as reading the newspaper and then reacting to the news.

There must be hundreds of thoughts in your mind but right now you have no idea how to express them in writing. Reading helps you sort that out because the writer is expressing the same sort of thoughts very beautifully. You don’t have to copy the style as it is but you can take a hint and then come up with your own expressions. Sometimes small sentences can give rise to complete books.

Reading good writing also acts as an inspiration. When you come across something marvelous you want to replicate it; you want to write something similar or in the same vein. In the early 90s when I started writing my main source of inspiration were Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Their magical realism swept me off my pay someone to write my paper feet and I wanted to write something similar. Of course I knew that eventually I would have to define my own style and my own way of saying things. I lost touch with literary writing due to the various vicissitudes life threw my way but these two writers are greatly responsible for strengthening my passion for literary writing.

All my learning as far as writing goes has come from reading books. English is not my first language, and I never did well in English in school. But I had a strong desire to express myself in this language. I read scores of books in my early college days and fervently took notes and then practiced writing them in my own ways. I remember my friends used to buy essay laugh at me that I never enjoyed a book, I was always copying its portions and noting down words that I didn’t understand. Whatever I know today I owe it to my writing binges in the first year of my college. I cannot read with the same zeal now and I really regret that. I know I won’t be able to spend that much time now but I am definitely trying to resume at least a part of that reading passion.

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