Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Being a Long and Unsexy Post on the nature of Reading and Writing

I'm a writer. Or at least, I try to be. At least once a day I pull up a manuscript on my handy dandy computer and stare at it, trying to make more words appear with the sheer power of my mind. Quite often, it works, but there are some days when the amount--and quality--is pretty pathetic.

Right now I'm working on a story idea that I love. And yet, each paragraph is taking me about a year as I look over it and go "no, that's not quite right...maybe if I--huh." It's like pulling your own teeth at the dentist while heavily anesthetized.

I'm thinking that what I may need is more fuel. But what is fuel for a writer? Bagels and coffee? Worry? These usually work for me, but today, not so much. I think what I need is to read more.

There are some horrifying statistics out there on reading. For example, 1/3 of the people who graduate from high school never read a book again. 42% of college graduates don't read after they close their last textbook. While I'm an English major, who's probably going to make reading and writing into some part of my career, I'm worried by the idea that I'll never read just for funsies again.

So I'm reading. I'm easing myself in with a new book by an author I like, and then I'm going to read Water for Elephants, which I understand was written during National Novel Writing Month (always one of my peak periods of productivity. More on that at some point.) After that, I'm wondering what's next. I just finished Beloved by Toni Morrison, which was apparently inspired by Faulkner's writing, so maybe that's a place to go.

How do you choose a book to read for fun? Until this year I had a lot of disdain for reading books for their "literary merit" rather than for sheer enjoyment, but I had an English professor who turned this opinion on its head: who says that literary reading isn't pleasurable, or that fun reading can't be literary? It was so simple that it bowled me over. So, my new quest: to savor difficult books, and look for the complexity in apparently "fun" ones.

No comments:

Post a Comment