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A Writers Rant on Reading (cynical rant)

Writing has always been one of my many passions, along with the drums and baseball. In high school there was something about putting fingers to key’s that relaxed me. I have written things that have made others call me everything from a communist to a saint and thats really what does it for me. Nothing gets me happier than when someone reads something I’ve written and tells me they loved it, or even better that they hated it and completely disagree.

Many people assume that english is english is english, especially in high school and even the undergrad level in college. There are two separate entities involved in english, which so many people glance over. Reading and writing are two separate things and even though one may be a good writer, does not mean they have to be a good reader, or enjoy reading for that matter.

I am the perfect example this theory. From a young age, reading became more of a hassle than a hobby for me. I thought my time was better spent doing other things, and as soon as I learned that all that happens when you don’t read is you get worse grades in school, it was settled. Reading just wasn’t for me.

The main reason that I was turned off from reading is the same reason I am turned off from it now, in college. I recently dropped Intro to Literature, a class devoted into guessing what authors were thinking, feeling and trying to make the audience feel while they wrote. The problem is that this is not always the case. Being a writer myself, and after talking with a few fellow writers, we don’t think about that stuff when we write. I don’t think “wow I hope this line really gives a metaphor that relates to the third character I’ve introduced in the plot, and while doing this I’ve foreshadowed the ending with a simile.”

The point is that authors don’t necessarily try to do anything when they’re writing, they just write. Whatever comes to their head when the pen is ready to write, is what the reader will eventually read, nothing more nothing less. Interpretations are left up to english teachers and their students. These very interpretations are the reason that to this day I am turned off from reading (especially in a class room situation).

Although this might be shocking to anyone who reads this blog, I am in the first semester of my junior year and have gotten by just fine, reading almost nothing. I pay attention in class and soak in as much as I can from the teachers lectures, but when I get home to my room, the books generally stay closed and on a shelf. I am not saying that reading is not fun to some people, its just not for me and the idea of playing guessing games with authors heads is just ludicrous to me.

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2 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by Melanie posted November 10, 2008 at 23:37

    I wish I had time to read. I love to write, but I love to read also… I just don’t. I even tend to like books better than movies, (which I know is way uncommon among other college kids). I think that if you found the right books, you would like to read too. The problem is that for most people the required readings in high school or college are not those books. The analysis can get annoying, but to a certain extent it’s kind of fun and interesting. A lot of times author’s who write books actually do hide things in the text for you to interpret. That’s what makes them such great author’s. Even if the author doesn’t mean to put messages into the stories, they do anyway because the story is coming from their mind and almost certainly will reveal little aspects of their personalities. Its like how artists who write their own music have meanings in their lyrics that we can’t always understand. It means something to them or they wouldn’t have written them. So yeah… go to the bookstore and read the backs of some books and find one that doesn’t sound so bad to you. I bet you like reading more than you think you do.

  • Comment by katy posted November 15, 2008 at 21:57

    i think the problem with your thought process in this particular blog is that you are comparing apples and oranges. you were taking an intro to literature class. as far as i know, what you write would not be considered literature. you are essentially a blogger. obviously you don’t use literary tricks in your writing as your entries are a stream of consciousness. there is a difference between creative writing, academic writing and technical writing. you are comparing your own blogging to creative writing, which is the underlying problem here.

    i find it hard to believe that there is no thought to your entries. you obviously think about what you are going to make an entry about–whether that thought process takes minutes or hours is not the point. writers, regardless of there discipline, plan and think about their work.

    do you enjoy reading blogs, newspaper articles or cultural reviews? you must enjoy some type of reading if you are a writer. inspiration must come from somewhere–in your blogging case, it usually comes from a new cultural experience (like going to a concert or reading a new book. why do you think book/movie/theatre reviews are popular columns in newspapers?) it’s obvious that you haven’t found your passion for literature.

    hidden meanings are what makes literature so great and worthy of analysis. many people, including english & non-english majors enjoy the challenge of looking deeper than face-value into a book. it can be immensely satisfying.

    i disagree that authors just write whatever comes to them when they sit down. writing a novel takes a ton of preparation. authors have to think and create characters before they even gather a pen and paper. they have to have some idea of the story arc before they begin their writing. dialogue in novels is not an accident–it comes from careful planning and thinking about exactly what a character would say, how they would say it and who they would say it to. even effective essay writing follows this pattern–good papers need to thought out. it is hard for me to believe that great writers sit and produce a worthy novel without any thought.

    it is because of this that literary devices exist. authors write with certain themes in mind and i do believe that they try to connect characters and plot points through literary devices. novels would not be as interesting if the characters were disjointed. this is why people can read books over and over and constantly find something new to examine.

    why do you think writing is considered an art? skilled writers can use language to portray something eloquently. art history classes are devoted to examining paintings & other fine art forms through their hidden meanings and interpretations. film history courses look at films in the same analytical framework. obviously an literature course would examine novels in the same way. neither fine artists nor directors jump into a project without any previous planning, so why would an author act any differently?

    i agree with ^ with the song lyrics comparison. would any song be good if it's lyrics were completely literal…"i'm really sad my girlfriend broke up with me, right now i'm having a glass of iced tea"? lyrics, with or without musical accompaniment can be seen as poetry. poetry is a perfect example of a writing style that uses plenty of hidden meanings/metaphors to convey something–usually the author's emotion or opinion. music is often compared to poetry for this very reason.

    it is the sweeping generalizations in this entry that are the most problematic. for example: interpretations can be done by anyone, not just teachers and students; reading and writing go hand in hand and are not completely separate; the purposes of art are to entertain, make comment on something, or envoke a certain emotion; not every single time a reader picks up a book they do a line by line analysis (have you ever heard of those cheap romance novels? they are pure entertainment, but are not worthy of a literary analysis). you need to reexamine your views on reading and writing as a writer. to not do so would be to disrespect the very art (writing) you proclaim to enjoy so much.