Monday, April 16, 2012

Want to Write? Then Read!

In numerous places I have seen and heard that if one wants to be a writer, be a reader. I taught my writing lab students the same.  Read all you can get your hands on, read diverse material, and even copy out by hand good passages to get the feel of words by a good writer. On the other hand, reading might be my own personal writer’s block! Once I start, I can’t stop. Thus, my writing doesn’t get done. Oh, the ideas float around in my head, might even interrupt my readings some, but if I am not careful I am reading everything instead of writing anything.
Last week I picked up a writing book at the library book sale for twenty-five cents. Great bargain but I did not need one more writer book. Titled The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes, I haven’t gotten it read yet, because…too many other reads ahead of it. I am anxious to see what those 38 mistakes are…could reading too much be one of them?

This week I have been poring over writer magazines.  Sometimes the issues come, and I am done in a short while as nothing pertains to me or helps me where I am at in writing at the moment. The May/June issue of Writer Digest offered some group writing ideas in the Inkwell column. I am always on the lookout for something I can do with my small writers’ guild since it is made up of such an assortment of people writing in so many varied genres.

The May issue of The Writer had an article called A Writing Marathon encouraging writers to participate in marathons and offered a year calendar of upcoming events involving this kind of writing.  I find it intimidating to think of writing an assigned amount like 50,000 words in a month, but I wonder if I should try it?
In the same issue a small half page piece addresses second readings of works in the article "What We Learn in ReReading". Here Chuck Leddy directs us to a book by Patricia Meyer Spacks called On Rereading, a book of essays. By rereading favorite books at different times in our lives we pick up different things or with different responses because we are different people ourselves at each reading from our varied experiences. I have experienced this first hand myself many times. When newly married and living in an apartment near St. Louis, I poured over D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. While I found it steamy and enjoyed the story, I wondered why the fuss enough to put it on a banned list at one time. About twenty years later, I reread the book and kept looking for what it was I saw in the pages the first time. In another ten years I read it and found it, well, not my kind of literature. What was wrong with those people anyway? I wonder what I would glean from the pages now in this stage of my life.

Do you have favorite books to reread…if so, what are they?


BECKY said...

Hi Claudia, the first one I thought of is A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel. That's the book that made me believe I could write my memoir! Very significant to me!

Lynn said...

Because I have so many books I want to read, I don't normally re-read any, but there have been a few... epistolary style, of course.

Rebecca said...

I re-read Gift from the Sea just about annually. (I DO agree that reading is one secret for great writing...)

Did you happen to see my post about Carl Sandburg's library - 14,000 to 17,000, depending on which account you read....

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Claudia ... I write in the morning and read in the evening, when my back is tired from the rest of the day. I think that when I am done with my A-Z Challenge, I will add up all the words that I wrote on that alone this month ... just to get an idea of how much 50,000 words would be.

Thanks so much for your visit today,

Kathy M.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Claudia,
You are so right about the reading/writing connection. I'm shocked when I hear folks who want to become writers say they never read.
Oh, and I found a 25-cent paperback book at a used book store. The book was a collection of stories written by Flannery O'Connor. Can't wait to read it!