Friday, October 02, 2009

Why do You Read?

by G.Parker

I used to be a voracious reader. I would read anything I could get my hands on, especially if I was at a doctors office or waiting for someone. I used to spend so much time reading, that sometimes it got in the way of keeping house.

I'm not sure why I read, exactly, although I believe mostly it was for entertainment. My husband feels it's escaping, and I guess that's true to a point, I think everyone tends to like to escape the real world. My children read much like I used to, they gobble up the written page.

Books used to call to me. There is a character in the movie Mannequin named Hollywood. At one point in the movie, he's telling Jonathan that the reason he can't loose weight is jelly doughnuts. "They call to me, I can hear them in the middle of the night -- Hollywood, oh Hollywood..."

That's what books were to me. If you had asked me when I was younger why I read, I would have given you a blank look and shrugged. It was like air or food. It just was.

But lately, my entertainment time has been cut and my reading time has suffered. Along with that, my eyesight has started to diminish, (sigh -- a result of old age, alas) and I've had to start using reading glasses. This hasn't happened overnight, I've been needing them off and on for the past two years, but I've been in denial. As a result, I've become picky about what I read. If it's boring, I don't bother finishing it. If it has tiny print and I don't feel like finding my glasses, I put it down.

Right now I'm trying to read two books -- The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen and Glenn Beck's Common Sense. I've been reading them for about a month, and I still haven't gotten much past the first chapter. I just don't have time. I keep thinking about all the writing books I could be reading, but it's like that saying, "So many men, so little time?" How about so many books, so little time. That would be me.

I wanted to talk about reading, because as writers, the reader is what makes or breaks us. If we are trying to reach a broad range of readers, our writing has to be such that everyone, young or old would want to read it. Harry Potter books aren't just popular with the young, there are lots of older folks that have read the entire series. Twilight was popular apparently with a whole range of women. (Personally I don't get it...)

Are you writing for a specific audience? Is your reader going to be unique or one of many?

Think about why you read what you read, and ponder it for a while. A friend of mine said his writing teacher used to tell the class to go to the bookstore and look on the shelves where your book is going to sit. Look at the books next to that spot and see what they are like and who wrote them. That's what you want to get to be like. Those people who have already made it to the bookstore shelves.

Those authors who have readers. That's where you want to be.


L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, my housework can go to the devil if there's a book in sight. (Or within a 2 mile radius, really.) I can't live properly without something to read. It's like batteries for me. I "power down" when I don't have something to read.

I like that idea of checking out the bookshelf where I'll (hopefully) be. Better watch out Edward's and Gould's! I'm squeezin' in one of these days!!

Cheri Chesley said...

I read to appease the voices...

Evelyn Curtis said...

Funny, I read because I feel lost when I am not thinking about some type of character. It has really helped me in thinking about my own characters. I have read so much that I know what should not be done, and what should. It has been a good learning experience.

I have been involved in a competition where we (the members of the game), have to develop a new good habit. Mine is to write everyday. This have forced me to sit down and squeeze out something. I have found it easier and easier each time.

And your post actually made me think about one book I am currently reading. "Characters and Viewpoint" by Orson Scott Card. This has taught me a lot about what kind of character we should develop to fit our story. I recommend the book highly. Anyway, I hope all this makes sense. I was multitasking while I wrote this.

Cindy Beck said...

Fun post on reading. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think most writers love to read ... although I have heard of a few who don't.