It's kinda like when I was a child. Whenever I had the opportunity to play a piano, I'd sit there for glorious lost-to-the-world hours, pounding and teasing the keys, even though I'd never had a single lesson, and didn't have a clue about what I was doing. I didn't know how to play, and knew nothing about tempo or playing chords; I just poured myself into the experience with reckless abandon. No doubt, the noise I was creating was sheer torture for anyone within earshot, because I didn't give a good diddle about hitting the right notes. I wasn't thinking about the people who were subject to my senseless noise; I was thinking about my own enjoyment.
It's the same with writing. Those who know nothing or care nothing about the basics of writing scribble whatever comes to mind, regardless of spelling, grammar, or whoever might be subject to reading it. But a writer? A writer expects much more of himself. He wants his words to create something wonderful and truly worthwhile. It isn't enough to use words; they've got to be the right words, and if he's very lucky, they strike the right chord with his readers. Writers don't want to make readers cringe like a certain little girl pounding out those sour notes used to do.
As you can probably tell by that badge up there, it is once again IWSG day, when writers all over the world are encouraged to share their ups and downs with each other. Thanks go out to Alex Cavanaugh, ninja captain extraordinaire, for coming up with this super idea. If you'd like to join this caring group or read the posts of other writers, please go here
So on to this month's question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?
For life-long addicts to the written word, reading is a vital part of our existence. As a child, I consumed books indiscriminately like a plague of locusts leveling a wheat field. Some books I loved, some I liked, and others I liked less, but I always enjoyed the experience of reading, and never criticized the work. If I was reading, I was happy.
As an adult, I still read a lot of books. Our house is full of them. Bookshelves everywhere. Books in every room. Books in the attic. If I wanted to, I could build a wall with books. (But why would I want to do that? Then no one could read them.) When I was considering buying a book at a yard sale, Smarticus wanted to know why in the world I wanted another book. I already had hundreds of them. I said, "But I don't have this one." He couldn't argue with that, and neither could the gal selling it. She laughed and gave it to me for free.
But as a writer and an adult, my reading has become much more discriminating, and my reactions are much more critical. I notice misspellings. Bad grammar drives me up the wall. Poor plotting and cardboard characters annoy the stuffing out of me, and poorly constructed sentences... especially in the newspaper... are endlessly aggravating. Perhaps because I employ a pushy nit-picking internal editor when I'm writing, I can't shut her down when I'm reading someone else's work. I find myself judging what I read instead of simply enjoying it. In short, as a writer, I have an even greater appreciation and admiration for beautiful writing, and much less patience for sloppy writing.
I still crave... and sometimes find... books that are so beautifully written, they sweep me away and engulf me in a wondrous world populated by exciting ideas and characters, but it isn't as easy as it used to be. Darn it.
Are you more aware of errors in the things you read than you used to be, or is it just me? Or... are there simply more errors?
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
P.S. I'm experiencing a bit of a split personality today. In addition to being HERE, I'm also guest blogging with the really real housewives HERE
How about popping in over there, too? And it'd be extra nice if you'd sign on as a follower while you're there. It's a super blog run by four super ladies, and they and their guest bloggers always come up with lots of interesting and helpful tips and advise. I'm offering some health tips today... and some of them might even be true!