Being a writer as changed the way I read. When I was young, I devoured books visually. I would scan my eyes along a page of text and the meaning would flow into my mind. I didn't really have an intervening step where I would "hear" the words represented on the page. As a result, I was a very efficient reader, easily going through five to ten books in a week.
Monday, February 4, 2013
But when I actually started writing, my style of reading actually held me back. As the written word to me was merely a visual code, my writing has no music to it, no real flow or rhythm. It wasn't until I started reading my work out loud during my editing process that I reconnected the audible portion of writing in my own work. Now, it's second nature for me to hear the words I'm writing. A side effect of this is that I now also hear books I'm reading, and this is a much slower process of going through a book than my old habits. A book that I might have devoured in an afternoon now takes me a week or two to get through. There are advantages to this... I've discovered some of the beauty of good writing that had previously been lost to me. The downside is, I can't fit as many books into a year as I'd like.
This year, I've made a decision to devote the whole year to reading old classics that I've somehow missed reading up until now. So far, I've read Pride and Prejudice, The Time Machine, and the Island of Dr. Moreau. Now, I've started in on Tarzan of the Apes. If the book isn't at least a century old, it probably won't make it onto my list for the year.
I kind of feel guilty that I'm ignoring novels coming out this year. After all, many of them are by other writers who are my friends. And, there's something to be said for the importance of a writer understanding what work is being published currently. But, I turn 49 this year. Do I really want to turn 50 and say I've never read Frankenstein? Or Wuthering Heights? It's not as if I have no foundation among classics. I could list a hundred important books I have read. But, the number of important books I haven't read far outnumbers those I have. Of course, this will still be true even if I somehow recovered my old five novel a week speed. Still, it's a worthwhile project. I'll post my progress as the year proceeds.
Posted by James Maxey at 5:29 AM