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POINT OF VIEW: The Joys of Reading

I’ve forgotten how good it feels just to read.

It seems ironic that I’m a writer who doesn’t read anymore, doesn’t it? It’s like a chef who never bothers to taste any cooking other than his own. Or an artist who never visits an art gallery.

I have no time.

My work life is severely regimented. I’m one of those incredible overachievers with a truly disgusting work ethic, spared only from relationship ruin by the fact that my amazing husband works right here in the trenches beside me.

Last year, I shared here that I’d found little bits of time in my life that, all strung together, were sufficient to allow me to read books again. I’ve stumbled at it – certainly there are enough other things to claim those bits of free time – and yet since then I have managed to finish reading a number of books – most recently “The Shipwright and Other Stories” by Matthew Buscemi. It’s a wonderful fantasy collection you’ll find reviewed in this week’s newsletter.

And you know what? It feels really good to be reading again.

It’s recharging for me as a writer, exposing myself to the works of others and swimming in their words for a few weeks.

I spent almost a month wandering through Buscemi’s Palípoli archipelago, spending time in its various cities and soaking up the simple idea of his world. So many ideas. So many people and places, so much NOT here on Earth at this particularly painful moment in both our personal and public lives.

Reading is such an escape for me.

I knew this once. When I was younger, I would stay up until two in the morning with a great book, never wanting it to end, and would re-read some of the greats over and over again. Reading McCaffrey, Asimov, Clarke, Tepper, Hamilton and more helped make me the writer I have become, and yet I have forsaken them all for far too long.

So now I am inching my way through “Tales From Ardulum,” a wholly different experience from “The Shipwright,” falling into my old comfortable pattern of fantasy – sci fi – fantasy – sci fi. And I find that it’s healing for me in ways that I didn’t expect. It’s making me excited to think about writing again.

Angel tried to tell me how important it is that, as an author, to find time to read. “You need to read. You need to know what’s out there.” She told me more than once.

I brushed it off. “Find me the time,” I said to her. “Every moment of my day is full.”

Turns out she was right. I really hate it when I’m wrong and she is right. 😛

I do have the time. I just had to let myself use it.

To my writer friends – do you have time to read? And if so, how important is it to you as a writer?

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1 thought on “POINT OF VIEW: The Joys of Reading”

  1. Hi Scott. I was taught to love reading from an early age by both my parents. In fact, my mother used to tell me, “Remember honey, you are never alone, when you have a book for a friend.” As a child, even before I could read, I remember being read to. My dad also loved his time with me when we would go to the library where I would sit and read for hours with him by my side.

    But things changed when I grew up. I too, found little to read, as I became more and more addicted to movies and t.v. I found I had lost something, but didn’t know how to get it back. It wasn’t until I was accepted into an MFA program in Creative Writing, that I rediscovered my joy of reading. I also found after being in the program, that reading other writers who wrote in diverse styles, also made a better writer. So, I agree wholeheartedly that reading is mandatory, but also fun, to help us become better writers. And reading different styles like literary fiction, science fiction, horror, memoir (Patti Smith is one of my most recent discoveries), plays, and screenplays, have all helped me to branch out and try my hand at different forms of writing. I often tell people who don’t read a lot, my mother’s mantra, “Remember…you are never alone when you have a book for a friend.”

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