Monday, March 31, 2008

Reading - Do You?

Our theme this week is a question: As a writer, do you still read? If you do, has being a writer changed how you read? Is it still a pleasure, or is it work? What do you read?

Sigh. This has been, for me, one of the unforseen drawbacks to writing for publication. I do still read. LOTS. But I can't say that I read for pleasure as often as I used to.

It isn't because there is a dearth of great writing out there. It's just that when I come across some wondrous example of literary genius - fiction or non - three things happen to me: I'm inspired to write something just as wonderful, I'm inspired to go tell everyone else how great it is, and I'm "inspired" to sit on my typing fingers because I will never be able to compose such richness of truth and beauty.

There's another thing that takes reading out of the pleasure realm and into the work world: I'm never (or rarely) unaware of the mechanics of the writing. If I do happen to get swept up in a story, there comes a moment - like in a dream when you realize you actually can't actually be walking on air - where my subconscious sits up and says: "Hey, how did she do that? Was it characterization? Plot? Pacing? Word-choice? Scene? All of the above?" And then R&R time is over. Now I must go back and see just what it was that swept me up that way. And what can I do in my writing to achieve the same effect?

On the other hand, witnessing beautiful sentence construction or superbly-detailed reporting is a joy in and of itself. So I suppose it isn't that reading is entirely without pleasure - it's just a different kind of pleasure.


Lisa R. said...

How can anyone who hopes to write well NOT read? My "problem" is how to stop reading. Every room in my house, car, office is crammed with books, magazines, newspapers.

I tell my kids to put down the Gameboy when I'm talking to them, and they tell me to close the book when they are trying to talk to me!

Sometimes, as a writer, it is more difficult to read for pleasure than it is to read for enrichment, craft study, etc.

Carolyn Erickson said...

I know what you mean, Lisa. I wonder if there are many writers who weren't avid readers. The two go hand-in-hand.

But I did notice that when I started writing on a regular basis, I had less time to read. There are only so many hours in a day, lol, and my writing time usually took place in what used to be my reading time.

Every now and then - weekends and vacations are great for this - I'll just read a book all the way through. My family has to remove any tripping hazards from the floors (and the dog has learned to be alert), because I'll walk through the house with a book in front of my face.

Good times. :)