Monday, May 23, 2011

That Personal Line Between Reading and Writing and Self

It's easy to look at reviewing, at blogging, as a job. Especially if you have books you feel an obligation to read, especially when you have to sit down and write a review after finishing those books.

But let's not forget why we read.

I read because of lines that hit my heart, that set off something inside of me. I read to find heroes to cheer for, people to relate to, words that are funny or beautiful or true. I read because of Beth March being afraid to die and Jo being afraid to live. I read because of characters like Melanie Wilkes, who are incredible in the face of adversity and strong in spite of their weaknesses. I read because of writers like Sarah Dessen and Sharon Creech, who have inspired me so much with their words, their stories, their characters.

I haven't read much this past week, and it's not because of finals. I have such a personal relationship with books and their stories and the process of writing them. Sometimes it's hard to separate the writer in me from the reader in me and, sometimes, when I'm disappointed in my writing life a book is the last thing I want to see.

Because sometimes a book is like a taunt. Why aren't my stories like this? Why isn't my writing this good? What am I doing wrong that they're doing right? How can I possibly appreciate a story this great in the frustrated state I'm in?

Unlike some writers who for a long time didn't realize writing was a real career choice, didn't really imagine people sitting down and writing the books they so loved, I always did. Somebody wrote Little Women. Somebody wrote Betsy-Tacy, and Tib. Somebody wrote Amelia Bedelia and Curious George. I always wanted to grow up and be that person, but the problem with this is that sometimes it's no good to think about the writer behind the book. Because that writer is a person and I have a bad tendency to compare myself to other people, to use their success to shoot myself down.

It's something I'm working on, this jealousy or insecurity or whatever you want to call it. Because the day I can't enjoy an incredible story because I'm too hung up on my own issues? That's the day reading, writing -- stories themselves -- start to become a chore. And when that becomes a chore, I'm done for. So that's why I haven't been reading much lately: because I can't read if my own inadequate feelings are clouding someone else's story.

But I'm back now and you didn't even know I was gone, probably. Also, guess what? I'm totally enjoying the book I'm reading. 

*Note that: today is supposed to be the introductions day for Armchair BEA, but I have a final this morning and already wrote this post so you get what you get and maybe (maybe) I'll do an intro post a bit later.

1 comment:

  1. I am exactly the same way and can get so discouraged. If I'm not happy with my own writing I can go weeks without reading or I flip it around and avoid writing like the plague so I can delve into another authors world for awhile and forget how inadequate my own seems. Sometimes you just need a break and that's how you grow as a writer. But you have to believe in yourself! (Easier said than done). And I think a lot of writers struggle with that. ;)