Reader First, Writer Second

Hi, my name is Jordan Stephanie Gray, and I love writing. I would do it on a train, I would do it on a plane. I would do it in the house, but probably not near a mouse. Of course, it depends… is the mouse cute? Now, all this is to say that almost nothing makes me happier than when I snuggle into bed, turn on my ‘emo kid from the 2000s’ playlist, and get to work. The one thing that trumps this, however, is reading.

When I was a young wart hog (you’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head, fellow 90s kids and Disney lovers), I read all the time. From the age of five, I would visit the public library at least once a week, checking out five or so books at a time. During my middle and high school years, I would check out even more on top of that. All these books would be devoured by the week’s end. I’ve kept up this habit well into adulthood (or new adulthood, I guess), and I think it’s sincerely helped during my time as an author.

As a reader first, I understand bad reviews. When I get a low star rating, I shrug, see if I can learn something from it, and move on. I’ve read hundreds (okay, thousands) of books, and I’ve loved only a few hundred. Everyone has different tastes. So one person might pick up PRUDE or EASY and adore it, and another might slowly light each page on fire and delight in watching my words turn to ashes. That’s okay with me! I can only write from the heart, the same as every other author out there. And it’s not our say in whether the book is good or bad or meaningful or amazeballs, it’s yours. 

Being a reader first has also allowed my writing to stop from going stale. With every book I read, I learn different styles, words, and how a story is formed. This helps my style and voice to mature and change because, honestly, I’m only twenty two and I doubt this is what I will write like forever. Sure, the wittiness will stay and the humor’s not leaving anytime soon. But I doubt I will sound this cool in twenty years… I do sound cool, right? In the author world, they say your writing will always be better than yesterdays, but I say it will be even better after you read a few books both in your genre and out of it. Nothing like expanding your mind to make your words flow more good (ha-ha).

And, finally, being a reader first has taught me to have respect for my fellow readers out there. Because without you, there would be no market for books. There would be no bookstores. There would be no e-readers or fangirl groups or a community of amazing people to connect with on social media. As an author, I can only put my words down on a page. Yet you, all of you, take the time to read it, sometimes write about it, and share those feelings with your friends.

I don’t know why I’ve written this. Maybe to talk more about myself because my days are spent talking about aliens, cars that turn into giant robots, and general bathroom humor with my four year old. But, really, it’s to thank all of you out there for reading, for giving your honest opinions on all the books you read, and to remind my fellow authors that we can’t account for taste. We can only write what we do and let the world interpret it as they will. 

Thank you always,


Jordan S Gray






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