A treasured pastime, I’ve been reading since early childhood. My mother belonged to the Book of the Month Club, and each month I couldn’t wait to see what selections she’d ordered. By the time I was a teenager, my sisters and me were devouring books like candy. Instead of plopping in front of the television after school I raced to my room, grabbed my book, and planted myself belly first on the bed. Anxious to find what happened next, I turned to the page I’d dog-eared that morning before hopping on the school bus. I stayed lost among the characters of another world until mom forced me back to reality for dinner or some other household task.
Growing up in a house full of books, the love of words came early and easy. To me reading was as natural as eating and sleeping. As soon as I finished one book, I picked up another. This small town Southern girl fell in love more than once with characters on a page.
Two years ago, I decided to take a more serious approach to writing. Before long, I discovered I’d let studying the craft of writing consume all my time. In pursuit to be a skilled writer, I’d allowed the pleasure of reading to take a back seat.
I’d forgotten how it felt to get lost in a good book. The descriptions so vivid it seemed as if you were standing on the street in the midst of the story. The scenes and dialog creating such tension you found yourself gripping the book cringing, gasping, sometimes crying, or laughing out loud. You couldn’t wait to turn the next page. Then it dawned on me. This is why writers read.
The many magazines and books I’ve read on the craft of writing have given me a wealth of information. They were instructional, explanatory, more like “telling” me “How to write.” On the other hand, picking up a classic, best-selling novel, or even a well-written short story, “Shows me how to write”.
So, I challenge you. Pick up a book for pleasure. Lose yourself in the story. Afterwards use the knowledge you’ve gained from the resources on writing, and take the story apart. How did the author do it? Look at the description that transported you. Study the dialog, the characters and plot. After that one, pick up another one. Reading will make you a better writer.
I’m reading Sister of Silence by Daleen Berry. What are you reading for pleasure? Or craft? Leave me a comment.