When Writers Read

No quote today. I think because I just watched Cast Away, and it is films like that (and Brokeback Mountain) that remind me how much can actually be said with no words at all.

So I told myself that as I get along doing guest blogs and what not, that this journal wouldn’t go untended. We’ll see. Honestly, between Facebook and Twitter, and let’s not forget, actual writing, there’s only so much to say. And I think we all agree that filler sucks. Except when Willow sings it in the Buffy musical.

This post isn’t filler. It has to do with stuff that’s been going around lately, about bloggers and bad reviews and all that zazz. Now, I’m not going to weigh in on that because enough people have, with strong points. I’ll only say this to the writers out there, pubbed or unpubbed: Bad reviews are on their way. Of course they are. People are going to poke our babies with sticks and watch them cry. Occasionally, our babies will be fed to dingoes. But our babies are like Kenny from South Park. They just show up at the bus stop the next day with their kicky red hoods up. Moving on.

The thing that all this bad review talk and being a writer writing reviews talk got me to thinking about wasn’t about reviewing at all. It made me think about reading. And how different that experience becomes, once you’re also writing. Particularly if you’re studying about writing. Any writing students know where I’m going with this?

When I started studying writing I had a freak out. I didn’t like learning all these techniques and methods. Because I’m a reader. It was like seeing up the magician’s sleeve. I didn’t want to see the strings. Thought it would take the magic and the pleasure out of it, and pretty much turn me into a bitter a-hole. I didn’t want to understand the purpose of dialogue or tense. I didn’t want to see the virtues of minimalism and the calculation of a motif. I. Don’t. Like. Brushstrokes. Except on paintings. Those are fine. I noticed that when I read something, I’d be instantly critical of it. I was starting to see through.

And not through in the way that you notice every time Stephen King writes himself into his books, the same way he manages to pop up in all of the movie adaptations (and did you hear, The Stand is hitting the big screen! Fucking right! Or oh so wrong…) or the way that you noticed that Anne Rice took certain liberties with characters in the last Vampire Chronicles installment. (and no offense to either of these writers. I’m huge fans of both and say it with endearment.) But seeing through. To the technique rather than the story.

The fact of the matter is, once you study writing, you don’t read the same way you used to. But so what? On the other side of it, I wouldn’t trade the studies. Besides, reading is still kickass. The writers I loved I still love, just with a new dimension of appreciation.

2 thoughts on “When Writers Read

  1. samarajensen

    I’m exactly the same way – I can’t read a book now without looking at it from a writer’s perspective. On the plus side, when a book is well written, I appreciate it even more now. But when I find a book with flaws, I’m super critical about those flaws and it spoils the overall enjoyment of the book for me. Whereas before I probably wouldn’t even have noticed those flaws. I just don’t read in the same way anymore, but it’s too late to go back now…

    Reply
    1. kendare_blake

      Oh good, I’m not alone. Part of me suspected I was just being an asshole about it. But sometimes, I can almost get away from the writer’s eye. The best books can still make me forget that writers even exist. And I think I’ve managed the affliction well enough that I could even read some Dan Brown without much comment. If I ever wanted to do that.

      Reply

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