Reading and Writing

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“In Hollywood the woods are full of people that learned to write but evidently can’t read. If they could read their stuff, they’d stop writing.”

Will Rogers

The turn of a phrase, a specific word, a striking first sentence or a surprise ending – those are the moments when reading becomes remarkable. I still get chills when I read Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”   And who can resist, “and they lived happily ever after.”

Writers are the best readers.  Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  J.K. Rowling agreed, “The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did.  It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary.”

Writers need to hear the voices of other writers.  Blended voices do not imitate or mimic; they unite and introduce harmonic structures that resonate with creative understanding.

Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
William Faulkner

 

20 thoughts on “Reading and Writing

  1. Writing on a constant basis, I find myself now reading differently. I now see and admire all the sentence structures, the flow, and the metaphors I used to skim over. There’s a lot more to appreciate!

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    • Well said – I now appreciate how words and ideas are projected into a dialogue or a narrative. Especially when someone is able to to deliver the message or content in a few short, but on point, sentences. Over the years, we have learned to process quickly. If the message is obscured by too many words, readers lose interest.

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    • I agree – we need to explore new ideas and different ways of approaching a discussion, story line, even the way we embrace life. Knowledge is a powerful force generating peaceful outcomes.

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    • I agree! The other day I saw a advertisement for a course on “How to Blog.” It reminded me of those creative writing courses that I was afraid to sign up for because I knew that I would be more discouraged than encouraged. While I appreciate feedback has the potential to add to the learning exchange, there are times when personal preference can interrupt the creative process. Sir Ken Robinson said that “Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.”

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      • “How to Blog.” Uh, okay. I can understand learning about how to set up a blog, but if someone doesn’t have a focus on the content that they intend to create, I’m not sure a class will help. This reminds me of MFAs. Having one will help you to have a book published by a reputable publisher, but so often when I read authors who have MFAs, I find their prose so beige, so restrained that it’s really not memorable.

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      • I have found that there are two types of people in this world: 1) those who go out and experience, challenge, embrace, confront and revel in what life has to offer. 2) those who research and study those who go out and experience, challenge, embrace, confront and revel in what life has to offer.

        I prefer the first. As Mae West once said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

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    • You are so right. I am not a professional photographer; I was and still am happy pointing and clicking with my Canon on automatic setting. By following your blog, I now beginning to understand the “jargon” For example, I now know that HDR means High Dynamic Range. By viewing the work of other photographers, I am learning to appreciate the nuance of lighting, angle, and subject matter. Now, I want to know more…and isn’t’ that what it really is all about?

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    • We are poor, indeed. In fact, I believe that we need to read those books which challenge our way of thinking. We need debate, we need to question. I just have to quote Sir Ken Robinson one more time. He said, “For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim too high and fail – it’s just the opposite – we aim too low and succeed.”

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