Friday, February 20, 2009

From Reader to Writer

by G.Parker

When I was a teenager, I used to read anything I could get my hands on. I'm serious; literally anything. I used to stop at the library on the way home from high school and pick up three to four books -- though I have to admit, most of them were romances -- and read them that night. (Okay, so I didn't have much of a social life.) The next day, I would take those books back and pick up some more.

When I moved to Utah and was in my senior year, I took an English class that turned out to be a feeder for the school newspaper, and a trial run of a speed-reading course. It was bizarre, and I didn't think much of the teacher. I was the fastest reader in the class. I could read something like 1800 words a minute with 80% comprehension. The teacher was thrilled, and gave me an award. It was the only award I ever got in high school, and I was totally embarrassed. I mean, no one else thought it was cool....

After I began college and started thinking about a mission, my reading changed a little. I discovered there were books written by LDS authors. Unfortunately, I wasn't very impressed with many of them, though I remember Shirley Sealy's books with fondness. I was also a letter writer during this time. I used to write anyone and everyone that wrote me. Once I went on my mission though, I was tired of writing letters, and started writing seriously.

After I got married and started having children, there was a period of time that I didn't do much besides read -- there wasn't much brain available for anything else. When ten years had passed, I felt myself starting to come to life -- my brain started to function again. I wanted to read things that had heart; I wanted to write and I wanted to paint. One thing that struck me: I had young girls growing up that were going to become readers and what were they going to be reading?

It was at that point that I realized it was important to be concerned about their reading material. It's a big thing to monitor what you put into your brain. Suddenly I felt a need to write the kind of books I would want my daughters to read. All of a sudden it was more important what I was writing. I had moved from an avid reader (although I still am -- just pickier) to writer.

The transition didn't happen over night, and it has taken a lot of work and dedication. Unfortunately, it's still more a hobby than craft. I'm working on it though, and things are getting better. It's great to have friends with common goals that help with suggestions, critique groups who help with editing and family that support and my family’s support.

While we are all writing with the goal of being published, and as I spoke about last week, the idea of reaching our audience -- we need to remember whom we are writing for. Who is your target audience? Your children? It kind of puts a little pressure on the subject matter, doesn't it?

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