Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How I Write: Reading as a Writer


I am a writer mainly because of the way I read with abandon as a child. It made me want to . I loved the things that words could do to people, and I wanted to make that happen with my own words. But somewhere along the line, I stopped reading the way I did as a child. Because losing yourself in the words is not conducive to learning how to use them to your advantage. Reading as a writer requires a slowness and a certain amount of critical observation. But I have found a phenomena in my reading life that reminds me of that childhood reader. Once in awhile something just turns on in my head and I cannot get enough reading. I keep trying to articulate this. Here is how I described it in a post from last December (and don't let my 2nd person address fool you, it really happens to ME): You pick up a book to read and you are driven all the way to the end(or sometimes you only want to read beginnings but you read the beginning of all 20 books you have home from the library). Your eyes eat up the words and it is almost as if you are searching, searching, searching. It's thrilling. And then one day the engine dies, I mean, it is just completely gone but the only reason you know is because you picked up a book. You held it there in front of your face and you realize you are totally stalled. The words are bumpy. They are in the way instead of pulling you forward. It seems so cruel to find out like this. You were excited to pick up the book. The writing had gotten hard and reading would be such a panacea. But both the reading and writing engines out of gas at the same time. Like a breech in contract.  And you have to realize once again how integral the reading is to the writing and vice-versa. And that there is no way over under or around this mood, you must go through it. 
That description captures it as well as anything. And still doesn't capture it at all. Why don't I have more control over this? Why then are there only these rare moments when reading becomes everything and instinctual, as if some animal brain (not unlike my child brain) is trying to find something and whatever that thing is connects directly to my writing?

For right now I have to be satisfied that that is just it, it is instinctual and I cannot articulate that searching part of my process. Some part of me knows what it is looking for, but the conscious part of me is left out of the communication loop. Afterward, after I have soaked in all the words, the process goes underground. Or at least that is my guess! BUT WHO KNOWS, REALLY?

So, go check out what the rest of the folks have to say!