Thursday, July 12, 2012

From readers to writers and back . . .

Most, not all, writers start off as readers. Young readers. They're enticed by stories of faraway places or down home antics, and their imaginations take off to create their own fictional escapades written with Number Two pencils on notebook paper. Or so it used to be. Now maybe they take to a laptop.

If the writing juices continue to produce, the reader morphs into a writer, and, as they say, everything changes. The writer continues to read but adds instructional manuals or, as the biz likes to call them: craft books. The rules of grammar, story construction, the trendy uses and non-uses of certain styles, tecniques, and words focus the beginner on those things which are supposed to enhance his capabilities as a writer of stories and his chances to get those stories published.

For some, books on the writing craft prove invaluable and accomplish their desired purpose. For others, the same books frustrate and inhibit, placing serious doubts into creative pysches geared for storytelling.

Inevitably along the journey of creative writing, "the writer" shape-shifts from a reader to a writer who critiques every novel that has the misfortune to fall before his focused eyes. Suddenly the published prose is unsatisfactory. Rule-breaking is rampant and POVs run willy-nilly while adverbs show up everywhere! Betrayal.

"The writer" learned every one of those "right" methods and here's some pseudo-author wreaking havoc with the rules of writing. No longer is it about story. In fact "the writer" can't recall what the story's about because he's too busy picking apart the technique, style, improper uses of this or that, and the overall miserable job that somehow got past editors and was published.


If the writer continues to read and write, listen and learn, he will inevitably conclude methodology isn't a science, writing is indeed a craft but subjectivity ingests itself into the mix, and writing cannot be simplified to obeying certain rules to produce bestsellers - or even likable stories.

If you started out as a reader and graduated to a writer but hopefully returned to being a partially untainted reader again, you know exactly what I'm talkin' about . . . 


Ane Mulligan said...

Do I ever! And I've always believed the BEST writers started as avid readers.

Brenda Anderson said...

Yep, I know exactly what you're talking about, Nicole. I'm still a pickier reader than I once was, but I'm learning to shut down that editor and enjoy reading again.

An additional--and sometimes more difficult--step is for the author to enjoy writing again once they've absorbed the rules.

Nicole said...

Very good point, Bren.

Ane, it's hard to imagine being a good writer without having been a good (uncorrupted) reader. ;)