Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Can a Writer NOT Be a Reader??

I just read this wonderful GalleyCat entry - link here - and couldn't agree more with this part:

Buzz Poole points out that reading is often more enjoyable than writing: “While the moments of magic happen, writing, for me, is hard work and at times incredibly frustrating. Reading, on the other hand, is not a struggle. It is an utter pleasure. And it is in this pleasure where I first took up the challenge of writing, in trying to emulate the wordsmiths whose stories possessed me so completely that the rest of the world would fade away so long as I kept turning the pages and allowed their words to fuel my imagination.”

I feel the same way. I was an insatiable reader from the youngest possible age (thank you, Teacher Mom, for teaching me to LOVE reading). I was the goofy nerd who got incredibly excited, seeing the Book Club books that I'd ordered from the school catalog 6 weeks before, stacked up on my English teacher's desk. Then at age 12, during a little "Creative Writing" session, I started to realize that somebody -- some actual human being, some writer -- had created all those lovely books that I so cherished. I also realized I could become a writer and possibly give that same gift to a reader, that same rush I felt whenever I read a book.

Truly, READING is the reason I became a writer.

So, it always confuses me when writers claim they "don't like to read" or "never read." Huh?!? Really? Isn't a LOVE of language, of writing, the reason they write? How can they not enjoy reading? Color me confused...

I always tell my Creative Writing students about the importance of reading -- that we're "studying" the craft when we read other writers (especially ones from our genre). Faulkner says it so much better than I could:

Read, read, read. Read everything-- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window.

*NOTE - this post is not a judgment against those rare writers who don't read -- but I just, for myself, couldn't imagine reading and writing NOT going hand-in-hand...

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