Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The need to Read

Yesterday I started reading Stephen Kings book titled On Writing.  (thank you Dawn!)

Wow. I fell in love with him, which is funny because in my life he has represented fear! I remember being about 9 and seeing Cujo on televsion one evening with my mother. I have been scarred ever since. (I also loved it!)

In 6th grade all the boys I knew were reading The Stand. Their arms would bow out beside them grasping their Trapper Keeper, science book, and the hugest book I'd ever seen. I couldn't fathom any 6th grader (except me, ha!) reading a book that big. When my brain made the connection that the author of that massive book was the same mastermind behind Cujo I began having graphic fantasies about what those boys were reading. I remember watching one boy in particular one day. he had finished his assignment and pulled open his monster novel. I watched him closely — just sure that he must be terrified. Sure that he must be reading of blood and gore and very scary things. I was waiting for him to shut the book in terror....unable to continue. It didn't happen.

Want to know a secret? To this day I have no clue what The Stand is about. I'm assuming it's a good book.

So, back to me reading On Writing. Last night I read one part that really resonated with me. He talked about the importance of reading. He stressed his theory that NO ONE can be a good writer without reading. I already agreed with this totally. It just makes sense to me. But I've often questioned my desires to write throughout my life. I even did it through the beginning of this book. Stephen talked about writing all through his adolescent years, his early adult years. Submitting, writing, submitting, rejection....blah, blah, blah.

We've heard this story before. Famous writer wanted it all their life...so they DESERVED to be published. They were better. They wanted it MORE. (That's what we're thinking right???)

Did he want it more than I do? Well, in many ways yes.

I learned to read when I was three. Not because I was a child prodigy, but because my mother devoted herself to it. I remember living and breathing flash cards and repition. I loved it. I was good. I slept with my books, I organized my books. I LOVED my books. Reading was my life. I wanted to write early. I knew that I would be a writer. It was that simple.

I was always thinking of story ideas. I was always writing down little stories and creating characters. All the while I read like an addict. 

My desire to write had a long draught. It didn't dry up completely...but it was sparse. In those years I went to high school, worked, met my husband, had babies, stayed up all night with said babies, stressed, made snacks. Does this story sound familiar? To some of you it will. Here is the deal, during those years....I wasn't really reading. Sure I read the basics for school...The Scarlet Letter, Red Badge of Courage, Killing Mr. Griffin. While my boys were young I read the Harry Potter books as they came out. I loved them too...but I wasn't really reading for pleasure on my own all the time.  Consistently.

About three years ago, when my youngest son was three, I started reading again. Like a maniac. It was a problem, I was taking in books like I was starving. I had been. My husband was all, "What is with all this reading, the laundry hasn't been done in 2 weeks!" I wanted to tell him, "This is who I've always been!!" I'd just been dormant. (As young mothers often are.) The writing desire came back almost immediately.


Funny enough, when I finally told my husband after a while that I was kinda sorta writing something. He wasn't at all surprised. It seems I had been a reader all along...I just didn't allow myself the indulgence. Life had gotten in the way.

Last night I read this in Stephen Kings On Writing.

Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

Thoughts? I'll tell you what I thought. Stephen King was giving me permission to stop beating myself up over the fact that for years writing wasn't a priority. It didn't mean that I wanted it less, or was any less capable of being a writer. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. I wasn't reading.

Why, as creative minds, are we always judging ourselves against others? It is a disease! More on that tomorrow.
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