Interview: Michael Arnzen

Research is probably where most new writers fail, because it takes a
lot of time. You have to research not only the background of your
stories — but the whole literary landscape. It takes a full immersion
in the culture you hope to address as a writer to join the wider
literary conversation of our world. You have to go to the library and
read everything. Take college classes in literature if you can, or
download a booklist and force yourself to read through all the
classics. Rent every movie you can with your genre’s markings on it,
even if you can’t stomach it, and force yourself to understand what it
is that makes your genre what it is. –Odyssey Workshop

I really appreciate the way Arnzen uses his own experience to emphasize how the reading of published and classical works is vital to the formation of literary skill.  See also his comments on hard work + good luck = talent, and on how putting the reader’s needs ahead of your own needs is important in the formation of a successful writer.