Despite the enormous backlog of genre on my nightstand, my Kindle, and an ill-advised dive into a re-read of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, I have further compounded my ability to pare down my book list by reading outside the genre. WTF.
When you write full time trying to keep up with favorites and must-reads in SFF can become problematic. So why would I read Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See? Robert B. Parker’s twelfth Spenser book The Catskill Eagle? Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast? Bill Bryson’s wise and winsome One Summer: America, 1927? Or re-read Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha for the umpteenth time?
On the face of it, as a SFF fan, I’m giving myself short-shrift. I still have yet to read the latest from Gene Wolfe, Kim Stanley Robinson, Neal Stephenson, and the last two Ann Leckie Ancillary books. I don’t dare order the latest from China Miéville because that would be like throwing a grenade into my capricious patterns. M. John Harrison, with all due respect and admiration, take your time on getting your next to your publisher. Please.
Does it matter in the grand scheme? For me, yeah, it does, but I realize YMMV.
I’m ever becoming a better writer, just through the simple discipline of putting words to screen each day. And I know the importance of understanding genre comps. But there's been separate, incremental improvement, I feel, that has been insistently encouraged by other voices, other characters, subjects, stories, and sorrows that have nothing to do with spaceships, galactic culture constructs, or systems of magic. I know I’m not alone in this. I just wish there were thirty hours in the day. Check that. I’d just sleep.