On writing and reading

I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read. –Samuel Johnson.

Frankly, this applies to a lot of things in my life, not just my writer-self.

I profess to be a writer, largely because I do, in fact, write (go figure). Now, I’ve been on hiatus the last few years (read “writer’s block”), but that doesn’t mean I’m not still writing—just that I’m not productive. See, I must be a writer, look at my impressive use of semantics.

To be very honest, I’ve been writing the last few years.

· term papers
· proposals
· a grant
· modules for 3-hour technology workshops for school
· campus technology plans
· beautiful recommendation letters for my students
· heartfelt e-mails and even letters to people important to me
· speeches for award banquets
· job descriptions
· curriculum for my classes
· and other reasonably mundane things

While those things have been satisfying in their own ways, they haven’t satisfied that part of me that needs to write. That part of me that produced poetry (some great, some garbage, some not fit for the garbage can and burned to put it out of my misery.). That part of me that would love to write children’s books and young adult novels. There’s even a part of me that would love to write Christian devotionals for teens.

But, I haven’t written anything I deem meaningful for three or four years. So, instead, I’ve been reading. And reading. And reading. Basically, I devoured everything in sight, from wonderful Southern fiction to software manuals. Favorite classics to modern day trash. Histories of Henry VIII to guidebooks for Texas historical markers. You name the subject and I’ve either read up on it or have a book in my “to do” stack (which grows larger by the day).

I had a date with another writer a few weeks ago. Nice guy, not terribly well-read. I asked him what he’d been reading recently. His response? “Well, I’ve been revising the short stories I’ve been working on.” No, I asked what you’d be reading recently, not what you were doing with your writing. He couldn’t tell me anything more than the local newspaper. He asked what I’d been reading lately, and I recited the laundry list—

· The Other Boleyn –about Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister
· A book on the restyling your library in the “bookstore model”
· Finding God in the Movies
· A string of blogs
· To Kill a Mockingbird (my annual re-reading of my favorite)

His eyes grew wide—not just at the sheer volume of what I read (and all of these are going on simultaneously), but at the different kinds of things I read all the time.

You don’t have to necessarily read as much or as often as I do (I read almost everywhere and all the time), but you should read, by God. I believe that you can’t grow as a writer if you aren’t experiencing the best and the worst that the writing world has to offer. The blogs are some of both, the novels—the same. To Kill a Mockingbird—need I say more?

But, maybe I’m weird. You tell me.
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1 Response to "On writing and reading"

  1. Rudicus says:
    Jun 3, 2005, 9:34:00 AM

    Most people don't read. I know what you mean though. Sometimes it is hard to read fiction because I always get ideas, but in the last two weeks I read:

    Players - about Shakespeare authorship
    Bird by Bird - about writing
    A book of interviews with Comic Book Writers
    The New Artemis Fowl book
    A whole bunch of comics and graphic novels
    A ton of blogs
    and a book about stress

    I even think there was another one, but I don't remember what it was.

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