Writing life

The art of reading, the practice of writing

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Well, I have been reading. Reading and reading. Latest is the new Arkady Martine, The Desolation of Peace. Before that, I read On Brassard’s Farm on my beloved Kindle. Before that, Kate Horsely’s Confessions of a Pagan Nun. The pagan nun caused me to look at my meagre collection of John O’Donaghue, and then order Anam Cara and a newly released book of John’s early essays, called The Four Elements: Reflections on Nature.

Those are the books I’ve read (or am reading…I am trying to savor the O’Donaghue books as there will be no more). There are also the Other Books, the Waiting Books that are lined up on my kindle and my bookshelves.

The self-publishing idea has introduced me to The Dark Side. That is, the side of publishing e-books that includes such companies as BookBub and Fussy Librarian. These services, and they are services, send out tidy email enticements to readers, targeted to one’s reading preferences and one’s reading device. Oh, and to one’s country.

It seems so incredibly long ago that Amazon was a new business, just getting started in the world of selling books. Try to imagine. That was before e-books were even invented, and audio books were piles of discs or even, gasp, tapes.

I was teaching at a small women’s college in upstate New York at the time, and I recall so well my colleague saying to me, do you know about Amazon? It’s dangerous.

Intrigue! A dangerous bookstore. Well, I had encountered such a thing before, it is true. Those stores with piles of remaindered books at 90% off were often a danger to my financial and personal well-being. I had a long history of buying more books than I could reasonably expect to read, and hanging out at the library besides. But Bronna said Amazon was dangerous, and she was right.

Before I had time to think, I had located Amazon and enabled One-Click shopping. I felt daring, letting an online vendor have my credit card information, but what is life if you don’t take risks?

That was it. Amazon was dangerous for me.

Now it turns out that BookBub is dangerous for me. The consequences are less severe, though, because the books I buy are less than a buck, and they also are only data, thus not taking up space that I need for, oh, furniture and clothes.

But I am accumulating books again, accumulating them at a rate that far exceed my reading speed. And I am a very fast reader. Oh, I just love having many books in my queue. It is far more frightening to me to have NOTHING TO READ than it is to have way too many books.

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I read an article on Chris Breechen’s blog one time (http://www.chrisbrecheen.com/) that suggested that reading was a very important activity for writers. I took it perhaps too seriously, never having been indolent about reading. I do believe that reading these works, both in my genre and beyond it, helps me to write less like I am talking to myself and more like my characters telling a story. At least that’s the tale I tell myself today!

What does your reading do for your writing practice? And what have you been reading lately?

What does your reading do for your writing practice?  And what have you been reading lately?

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2 thoughts on “Writing life

  1. I not only read to see how the greats do it, but I also do it to learn how words can affect me emotionally, and I strive to do the same for others through my work. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi, Stuart. That’s a great note, that you read to see how words affect you emotionally. I tend to think of poetry that way, but of course prose does it too. I think about the early work of Michael Ondaatje, and how I could never tell you the plot of one of his books, but I could describe the emotional landscape for years after reading it.

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