On Reading

I haven’t been reading as much in the last year as I used to.

I know, I know…BAAAAD girl. To write, you MUST read. I doubt I would be a writer today if I hadn’t been such an avid bookworm as a child. There are several pictures from my youth of me reading on vacations, Christmas Eve, etc….so many, in fact, that they almost rival the number of pics in which I’m sleeping (I love to sleep…). I’m even one of those rare people who can read in the car without getting a headache…in fact, on many family trips when we were driving at night, I would read a few words by each streetlight we passed under. Yes, I’m legally blind now. No, I don’t regret it.

And I advanced fairly quickly through the various levels of reading. The summer after fourth grade, I even went to the library and tried to read Shakespeare. No, I wasn’t a child prodigy or anything…I said tried. I just wanted to see what this Shakespeare fella was all about. I believe I slogged through Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Tempest. I had a vague understanding of what was going on in Shrew, but that was about it.

I would read in school whenever I finished my work. I can very clearly recall my fifth grade homeroom teacher, Mrs. Stewart, spotting me reading a Danielle Steele novel (I believe it was Zoya).

“Are you enjoying your book, Kristin?” she asked from her desk, breaking the silence that hung over the room.

I didn’t even look up, much less stop reading. “Uh-huh.”

So why hasn’t a professed bookworm been reading?

Two things: money, and writing.

Books cost money. If I had the cash to create a towering TBR pile, I would. Trust me.

And writing…well, ever since sometime in high school, I’ve been highly aware of how other voices can seep into my writing. I can feel it happening, can spot the danger signs, but I am powerless to stop it. The rhythm of other people’s words is sometimes impossible to shake.

I want my voice to be my own. I need, very badly, to establish it, because I feel that it only comes out from time to time so far. Sometimes, when I’m lying awake at night, I’m terrified that I’ll never master it. So I try to avoid, at least when I’m writing, the seductive lure of books. (On vacation is another story…my aunt Missy was amazed at the rate at which I completed books during out weeklong sojourn at Dewey Beach, DE. If anyone wanted to find me, they just needed to look for the girl with her nose in a book.)

They say that you need to read to write, and trust me, that’s true. Like I said, no reading as a young ‘un would’ve meant no writing now. I’ve probably read thousands of books since I first learned to put a sentence together, and it was all that reading that taught me how to write. Reading taught me about character development, plotting, description, humor…I could go on, but I won’t. Because if you’re a writer, then you know. I don’t need to tell you.


P.S. Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

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