You would believe that being a writer would make the act of reading easier. Perhaps you would think that our proficiency at wordsmithing would allow us to enjoy challenging works. Perhaps you would believe that our knack for storytelling would leave an insatiable desire in our stomachs to devour every paperback novel in the nearest neglected library. Or perhaps you might take a more practical approach, and assume that an author ought to read more than the average person, if only out of a desire to better his oh so sublime prose.
You would also be wrong.
Contrary to popular belief, most authors are not the quiet intellectuals whom have acquired a keen sense of what it means to belong to the human experience. Hell, I’d even venture to say that we have an even harder time understanding it.
For you see, the common author is not some street philosopher whom has been through hell and back. In most cases, authors are pretentious, mean-spirited, and snarky individuals whom only consume dark coffee in a fruitless effort to brag to their peers about it. And being the flawed individuals that we are, we’re often prone to having a difficult time reading books.
Maybe even moreso.
Alright, so maybe I’m just projecting (probably), but in my case, I’ve found that the act of cracking open a worn tome and sitting down for an hour or so to read has become rather laborious for me. You could make the argument that due to my juvenile age of 17 and the encroaching influence of the interwebs into our daily lives, that it’s a matter of external factors causing this reaction. And quite possibly, you could be right.
Being the fragile age that I am, patience is not exactly something my age-group is known for. Stereotypes, more often than not, hold more truth to them than what the outside world will tell you. And the stereotype of the lazy teenage boy whom is hasty and reckless and isn’t passionate about anything unless it happens to deal with leisure or the opposing gender is no exception. Of course, I pride myself as being more patient than others in my time of life, and as evidenced by this blog, my passions are not just limited to leisure and women.
And with regards to the interwebs, it is undeniable that the task of focusing on…well, just about anything, has become an uphill battle ever since the advent of technology and the like. With so much content available at our fingertips, sitting down to read a good book will most certainly become a chore. But even here, if you’re passionate about books, you’d easily be able to circumvent this. So my reading conundrum must be the cause of another factor, and if you’ve read the title of this post, you already know what I’m about to say.
Being a Writer makes Reading Harder. Does it sting? I hope it does, because the truth always stings.
Everytime I sit down to crack open a story, I’ve started to take on some really nasty habits. For quite literally EVERY sentence I read, I end up comparing it to something of my own writing. Regardless of genre, I can’t spend a second of my time without passing judgement on an author’s prose to see if it’s better or worse than mine. Naturally, this is followed by acknowledging the simple fact that they are published and I am not.
Suffice to say, this is something that really annoys me. There was a certain juvenile and fantastic aspect to reading back when I first started. Immersing myself was as easy as just finding a quiet place and letting the words flow as I read them. My mind would cease all thought, distractions would become a blur, and I could rest easy as I was taken away.
But after I became a halfway-decent writer, getting this feeling became harder. Slowly but surely, the amount of books that could truly grip me dwindled with every passing read. My mind was no longer silent when I read, it was a din of judgments and criticisms, followed by comparisons to my own storytelling abilities. I couldn’t relate to the characters I read about because the characters I wrote about were constantly lingering in my mind, refusing to let my imagination wander into the shoes of another.
And occasionally, these can be good feelings. I don’t regret becoming a writer, nor do I regret constantly thinking about my characters when I read other stories. It pumps me up for my good writing, but at the cost of making immersion in the works of others a fleeting luxury.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy reading, and this is all probably just a phase. There are still plenty of books in which I can lose myself in the narrative, it’s just that these grow fewer and farther between as time passes.
Whether this will last or not, I don’t know. But what I do know is that becoming a writer had a profound effect on the way that I read stories, for better or worse. What effect did it have on you?