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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reading and Writing

The other day I was lamenting how I would love to sit down and write again. My writing has fallen by the wayside and I am nearly bursting to contribute by means of pen to paper, or by choking up the blogosphere with more head-dibs. Simultaneously I was lamenting my problem concerning reading: I can’t seem to get it done. So many good books, so little time. I’m not one of those who can sit and flip through and say I’ve read it. I am one of those “consuming” readers--I need to process. Making matters worse, I like to read nearly anything and if it has a study guide . . . well, there goes my life.

Some of us categorize ourselves as readers and others would say they are writers. The truth is that readers should be writers and writers should be readers. The two compliment each other, so there is really no doing the one thing in preference over another. Reading should be done with pen or pencil in hand. Writing should be done with books open. That’s why margins exists (ok, perhaps not, but look what famous authors did as they read the classics). Truth be told: I am not writing well because I am not reading well (and vice versa).

Think of reading as a conversation, interacting with the author--and this can be done with any book. What I mean is that as a reader we converse with the author, after all, he or she is a real person with real thoughts, ideas, feelings. We are able to understand what we are reading by asking questions, or even making statements. Sure, we will not get answers from the author unless we write with our questions (should the author still live), or research the subject ourselves. Ah, now we are owning the material--learning! We may even find ourselves writing paragraphs spontaneously in response to something we’ve read--or perhaps even written!

Our daughter recently graduated from High School and asked that age old question, “now what, now that all my school work’s done?” I reminded her that life-long learning has just begun, go pick up a book and do something about it.

There are times when reading should be done in isolation, apart from writing. Similarly, writing has periods of independence apart from reading. We can be better readers and writers by paying attention to what happens when we do both, respectively: the reader may find himself “conversing” with the author or characters. Even if words go unsaid, the reader returns to the novel because he must finish--there are questions! The writer will find herself looking for explanations, illustrations. The things that happen with paper are fascinating!

Consider: writer’s block. It does not exist for a reader. Given the fact that I desired to write something, I sat down and simply started. No plan. Not even a subject. Yet you read and, I hope, are inspired to write. Pick up a book with me and write!

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