Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Respirational Therapy

Thought for the day: Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow. [Lawrence Clark Powell]

Yep. It's that time again.Time for our monthly IWSG posts. As always, thanks to our fearless leader, Alex Cavanaugh, for founding this fine group, and thanks to all the other nurturing guys and gals who've helped turn it into the thriving community it is today. I'm telling ya, this group offers better support and lift than the world's most expensive bra. (No underwires, either!) To join this super supportive group of writers and to see links to other participating blogs, please go HERE

Nothing much to report on the writing front this month. The editing work has slowed down a bit, too, because real life has gotten in the way. (Dontcha hate it when that happens?)

Okay, without any more blah-blah-blah, I'll jump right to this month's question:

It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?


[image courtesy of unsplash]
What are my thoughts?

Why in the world would someone who doesn't enjoy reading books have any interest whatsoever in writing one??? That makes about as much sense as someone who prepares delicious meals and then throws them into the trash because he doesn't like to eat. Or someone who's afraid to fly deciding to become a pilot. To me, reading and writing are the opposite sides of the same wonderful coin, and I can't imagine one without the other.

May I never be so blind that all I see is my own small world, nor so self-satisfied that all I am is all I ever hope to be. 

To the best of my recollection, those are the words a guest speaker wrote on the blackboard before teaching an adult Sunday school class many years ago. They resonated with me then, and they continue to resonate, which is why I still remember them.

How can anyone be so self-satisfied with their own world view that they don't want to expand their understanding of the world by reading what other writers have written? How can anyone think his ideas are new and original if he has no idea what other ideas exist? What point of comparison does he have?

Like most of you, I'm an unapologetic book hound. As a child, one of my favorite things to do was climb an apple tree at my grandmother's house... with a book. Sheltered in the tree's branches, I was nurtured by both words and apples, and I was transported to other times and places, and my imagination was sparked by the tales I read, both fiction and non-fiction.

It's hard to fathom how someone who doesn't feel that same spark about books can truly care about writing one.

[image courtesy of unsplash]

Are you familiar with the song I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face? One line in there says ♫♪like breathing out and breathing in.♪♫

That's a great way to describe my concept of reading and writing, too. Like breathing. When we read, we inhale knowledge, new ideas, different ways of thinking and living, and thus inflate our understanding of the world and the people we share it with. When we write, we exhale the stories we create, and we share a bit of our hearts and souls with our readers in the process.

How can someone exhale without inhaling? There's gotta be something in there before you can let it out, right?

So, in case it's unclear, I strongly support the point of view that says reading and writing go hand-in-hand. To write effectively, I believe a person must also read voraciously.

Oh... and have cats.




Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


Read! When your baby's finally down for the night, pick up a juicy book like "Eat, Pray, Love" or ''Pride and Prejudice,'' or my personal favorite, ''Understanding Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy and Apnea, a Clinical Study.'' Taking some time to read each night really taught me how to feign narcolepsy when my husband asked me what my plan was for taking down the Christmas tree. [Tina Fey]

64 comments:

  1. Conservatively speaking I agree with you more than 100000 percent. We have a friend who considers himself a writer but doesn't read. He writes to make money. Suffice it to say that I have read early versions of some of his work and will never buy any of them.

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    1. He writes to make money? That's kinda setting himself up for failure right there, even if he were a voracious reader.

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  2. I'm with you on this! Reading ... a lot ... is what eventually got me interested in writing.

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  3. Reading is a HUGE part of my life, and books take up most of my apartment! I learned to read at 3 and just haven't stopped since then. I am happy to have a Kindle these days as I can enlarge the print and see it well and can always carry a library around in my pocket. Hugs, Valerie

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    1. Same here. Not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if our house is slowly sinking because of the weight of all the books in it. :)

      I never thought I'd enjoy a Kindle, but boyohboy, was I ever wrong. The ability to, as you say, carry a library around in my pocket is like a dream come true. Plus, it saves our house from sinking any faster... :)

      Hugs back atcha.

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  4. When I was 8 or 9, my neighbour's house nearly burned down because I was left to watch the toast but there was a book. I don't know how I was reading in all that smoke, but when the panicked shouting started I was annoyed by the interruption...

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    1. Oh dear. That never happened to me, but I can certainly imagine it happening. Especially as children, reading takes us out of our surroundings and submerges us in another world. What smoke...? Yep, I can definitely imagine doing the same thing. Down to the annoyance at having to put my book down. :)

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  5. I love to read. I just don't wanna be told what to read, where to read, why to read, when to read.

    But I love it that somebody told me/taught me how to read.

    In every other aspect of my life, I am very agreeable. Say "Yes" to everything and anything.

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    1. I will read just about anything, but I get what you mean about preferring to select your own darned reading material, thankyouverymuch.

      I used to say yes to everything, too, which is how I got roped into "volunteering" for everything under the sun. Looking back on those years, I don't regret any of the things I did, but it felt good when I finally learned how to say no.

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    2. I really believe some people are just meant to do this and that. And I envy ... but am not one of them. I don't say yes to the doing part. But somebody has to follow the leader.

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    3. I said yes to the doing... and the leading. The world seemed to think that being a stay-at-home-mother meant I had alllll the time in the world to whatever needed to be done, and I was too much of a wimp to say otherwise. :)

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  6. There is no way that I could possibly be a writer without reading. Reading has been my passion, inspiration, solace, and greatest love for as long as I can remember. The foundation of literature is the structure upon which writers survive.

    Despite the fact that writers are inspired by reading, it's extremely important never to imitate the style of other writers (I was guilty of this when I first started out). Find your own voice, and develop a unique personal style of expression with which you feel comfortable. Being yourself ensures that you'll be sincere.

    And having a few cats around the house doesn't hurt.

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    1. Reading's always been that way for me, too. Who knows? Maybe in their own way, our fathers drove us to find solace and escape in books.

      I dunno for sure if I ever imitated other writers or not, but I don't think so. Which authors do you think you were emulating?

      Yes, cats definitely help. Except for when they ralph on your notebook or keyboard...

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    2. Reading was definitely an escape from my father and the constant chaos.
      Perhaps I didn't exactly copy the styles of other writers, but I was very strongly influenced by them. But my tastes were always changing. First it was the classics...the Brontes, Poe, Steinbeck,even Mark Twain. Later Taylor Caldwell, most especially John Rechy. Far too many to list.

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    3. That's more like it. I can certainly understand you... and the rest of us... being influenced by other writers, but no way can I imagine you copying anyone else's style. Everything of yours that I've read is purely Jon. (As opposed to pure Jon. HA!)

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  7. Books are like best friends. My 2 oldest best friends are Grimm's Book Of Fairy Tales, printed in 1930, and a tiny bible, printed in 1955. Although my style of writing is contemporary and also quite contrary, I am sure it's rooted in those 2 books. Much love, cat. PS: I love your new header pic, friend Sue … it made my heart skip a beat :)

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    1. We had a beautiful old book of Grimm's fairy tales when I was a child. I can't remember if it belonged to my father originally or to his father, but it was quite old, and the artwork in it was breathtaking. After my father died, I searched the house to find that book, but it was gone. No telling who ended up with it. (Whoever it was, I hope they appreciate it!)

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  8. Breath in, breath out. Exactly correct. What a wonderful way to put it. Couldn't live with out breathing, and I'd hate to live without books!

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  9. Sadly there are people who don't want to expand their minds. They live in a very shallow and empty world.

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    1. And yet, they believe they're safely afloat in the deep end.

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  10. I love the image of reading and writing being opposite sides of the same coin. So true!

    You know how most kids want to go out and play? I always wanted to stay inside and read. Hmm, that pretty much describes me today, too. :)

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    1. That's the way I was, too, but I also spent lots of time outside. Our neighborhood was wall-to-wall kids, so there was always something to do and someone to do it with.

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  11. Ditto on all you said. Well...maybe I'll take can extra book and skip the cats.
    Still too hot to sit on a bench these days. I'll meet you at the bookstore or library - sound good?

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    1. Our cats "help" me do just about everything, so I've gotten used to their able assistance, but if you don't want that kind of aid, I suppose a few extra books will have to do. :)

      Sounds good to me! Still too hot here, too, but cooler temperatures are finally supposed to pay us a visit next week.

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  12. Hi,
    Books have been a part of my world since I was a tiny kid. So, I so agree with you. Maybe some writers can write without reading, but I am not one of them.
    Have a lovely October.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. Hi-ya.

      Me, too. I feel sorry for children who don't have ready access to books.

      You have a lovely October, too. Shalom.

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  13. How can anyone think his ideas are new and original if he has no idea what other ideas exist?

    That's the problem. The initial cite in red assumes that if you don't read, it guarantees your ideas will be original because they aren't influenced by other writers. In fact, if you don't read, you don't know whether your ideas are original because you don't know if your current idea has already been done to death by others before you.

    I'm reminded of what happens with people who attack science. Most people who attack science are using "arguments" that have been trotted out and debunked for decades or even generations. They don't realize that because they don't bother to do research.

    I don't think there's any field where ignorance of what others are doing is an advantage.

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    1. Great comment! Thanks.

      You're right about the people who dig their heels in and "argue" with science. When it comes to a battle of wits, they're unarmed... but they still BELIEVE they're right.

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  14. I cannot imagine a life without books. I've been reading now for many years and am thankful for all I've learned from them. And love your description of it's like breathing out and breathing in. I would think that in order to be a good writer, you'd have to be a good reader. One does connect with the other. Good point and one I'd really never considered before.

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    1. I don't want to imagine a life without books. I'm quite sure I came out of the womb with a book in one hand and a flashlight in the other...

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  15. I LOVE your inhale/exhale description! I can't imagine a life without reading either. Or apples, for that matter.

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  16. I love the breathing in and out analogy. Perfect! Also love the God ecard LOL.
    I'm sorry life has been messing with you but I hope things are much better soon. Take care!

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, I think "books = happiness" is true for a lot of us.

      Thank you. We're definitely looking forward to the "much better," but it's gonna take a while to get there.

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  17. Yup. Yes indeed. Yuparoony. This month's question left my scratching my head. Are there really people who think that reading somehow harms their writing? Bizarre. As always, I love the humor in your post.

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    1. I dunno. I suppose there are some people who feel that way, but surely, there can't be very many of them. Surely...

      Thanks. :)

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  18. I can’t imagine any scenario where a writer would not be a reader. We all, if we are smart, learn from each other. Two writers I enjoyed reading were Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephrom. I bet they read each other’s books. What wonderful broads they were. You, dear Susan, have taken up their mantle, and given us stories of of interest and fun. You are always a pleasure to read.

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    1. Yes, they were both wonderful broads. Not sure, but I may have every book Erma every wrote. And you, dear lady, just made my day. That was a delightful thing to say. Thank you.

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    2. I agree with Arleen that Erma & Nora were “wonderful broads,” and you also have their ability to write stories which are both humorous and heartwarming. I need to start reading more again. Thanks for motivating me and I loved the quotes!

      Julie

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    3. Wow. Thanks, Julie. I think YOU have a wonderful ability to tell funny, heartwarming stories, so I appreciate your kind words.

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  19. I'm a voracious reader and I read daily. And then far into the night, too!

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    1. Me, too, only it's been a long time since I read far into the night. Years ago, when my husband went on a business trip, I'd start reading a book after I put the kids to bed, and I wouldn't stop until the book was finished. :)

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  20. I absolutely agree that reading and writing go hand-in-hand. I don't see how they could not.

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  21. I like that - we breathe in new ideas.

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    1. I like that concept, too. Food for the brain is as important as food for the body and oxygen for the lungs.

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  22. Reading sure opens one up to new ideas, or new spins on ideas, that they can spin too. One sure goes with the other. And of course a cat or two works as well.

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    1. Hmmm. Could be that your cats deserve some of the credit for your impressive output. Mine talk to me all the time, but I haven't yet figured out how to interpret their wise advise. Perhaps you have...

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  23. Reading is our life blood, so I guess we're all preaching from the same notes, LOL. Love your quotes. And I do see a writer who boasts that they never read as having a misplaced ego.

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    1. Exactly! I think non-reading writers have an overblown ego, too.

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  24. I agree it doesn't seem possible to be able to write without also reading. Doesn't one naturally lead to the other? Not all readers become writers of course, but all writers have to be readers, in my opinion, it's the words of others that lead you to create your won. Love the pictures and your new header picture.

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    1. I'd be very surprised if EVERYONE who responds to this month's question doesn't agree about the correlation between reading and writing. We IWSG folks and the bloggers I know, in general, seem to be naturally drawn to books. Then again, we're members of a somewhat unique community, so maybe some poor deluded dude walking down the street might answer differently... :)

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  25. Oh my goodness, as usual, you said it perfectly. Inhaling and exhaling. That's what it is. Also love the Sunday school quote.

    I didn't really give it much thought beyond a nonreading writer? Hmm. Don't think that person is anyone I'd like to know. LOL.

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    1. I'm glad you like that quote, too. It really resonated with me.

      Well, I dunno if I wouldn't want to know a non-reading writer, but I know I wouldn't want to read that person's books. :)

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  26. I can't imagine trying to write a book without being a reader. Books give me ideas, show me how to do it better, and let me go places I'll never go. Without books, I don't think I'd even be the same person. And cats.
    or as Terry Pratchett wrote in one of his many excellent books:
    "I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?" Death thought about it. CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.

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    1. YES! Cats are definitely NICE. (When they want to be...)

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  27. I love the analogy of breathing in and out!

    I was a voracious reader as a kid. I remember getting yelled at by my mother because I always had a book in my hands. I remember stirring cookie dough for Christmas cookies with my left hand, which really wasn't helping much, because I was holding a book in my right hand, reading. And of course I yelled right back, saying that I was the ONLY KID IN THE WORLD who got yelled at for reading too much. LOL.

    I wish I had more time to read now. Sigh.

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    1. Thanks. :)

      I have a feeling lots of folks who've already commented got yelled at as kids for reading too much... including me.

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  28. �� From a realistic point of view, writers have to do lots of reading (There is no way from getting away from it).

    Now, even though a writer is not into the habit of reading many books, they still have to proofread whatever it is that they wrote.

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    1. Somehow, I don't think proofreading one's own work rises to the level of "real reading." :)

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