Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When Being a Reader & Being a Writer Collide

I am an avid reader, and have been since before I could even read. My mother tells me that I used to sit at her feet and watch her reading. I am quoted as saying "I wish I could read." I was highly motivated to learn to read and learned as quickly as possible.

With my love of reading has followed a love of writing. I loved the characters in my books so much that I wanted to create my own characters. I began writing epic stories with no end in elementary school. I still have a notebook filled with a description of my imaginary world that I wrote some time in middle school. In 3rd grade, I was a finalist in a DAR writing competition about what the Constitution meant to me.

In high school, I discovered poetry. It was all I wrote for years. At college, I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. All but one of my workshop classes were in poetry. I really struggled with the one fiction workshop class that I took. My biggest issue was conflict. I didn't really have a lot in my own life, and a lack of experience led to a lack of inspiration for me. After college, I stagnated. I dealt with depression that sucked any interest in writing out of me.

Living in Los Angeles, I posted an ad on Craigslist for a writing partner. To my surprise, I found a great one! She was from Kentucky like me, and vegan where I was vegetarian. She liked my writing and really encouraged me. A year later, she and her husband moved back to Chicago where they had lived previously. I went out hunting for a writing partner again, and again was amazingly lucky. This writing partner helped me focus more on my goals as a writer and the fact that I start a million different projects and never finish anything!

Now I am a blogger mostly, with a few pieces of poetry and quite a few personal essays thrown in. I do a lot of thinking about writing a novel. I have done a lot of planning in regards to my novel. I've started more than one novel. However, I haven't pushed through any of them yet.

Then a funny thing happened. All that reading I've done about writing a novel started clicking into place while I was reading. The book I read the other day was a textbook example. Textbooks, though? Not so much fun to read. Textbook examples, ditto. I am seriously concerned that being a writer is going to ruin being a reader for me! It disappoints me that books are becoming predictable and formulaic. I don't want to have to give up one or the other of my pleasures for the sake of the other remaining interesting.


TexasRed said...

Usually when I start to feel like my reading is formulaic, I try to change genres. Of course, each genre has its own set of established formulae, but it does help to mix it up and see things from a different perspective.

Megan said...

This is a really great post. I try not to let my understanding of writing impeed my enjoyment of a book. I just try to observe the occurance and move on. Sometimes I can't do, sometimes I struggle with a book because I see through it. But that's okat too. All part of the reading experience.

Beatrice said...

I DID have to change genres for a little while. I can only take so much fluff! I'm trying to find some new books to read that aren't in that genre to read. So far, so good!