A Case for Reading

In the last few years, I’ve exposed myself to speeches and articles about how to become a better writer. Almost all have included the same message: To become a better writer, read good writing. And read more, and read some more.

This advice has always irritated me. Unlike many of my peers, I don’t relish the thought of curling up with a good book. Reading comprehension has never been my strong suit.

I got a card at the closest branch of the Vancouver library a couple of years ago and went back only once – to return the books I borrowed on the first visit.  At the end of courses, my textbooks usually still had that “new book” smell.

I got through school mainly because I showed up for class and did the assignments. The more challenging they were, the more I learned from them.

That same approach has fueled my writing to date. I show up for life. It gives me assignments. Some of them challenge me to my core. A fraction of my experiences and reflections provide topics for my blog.

For years, I couldn’t find the courage to record what my mind, heart, and body were telling me. I’m learning to honour myself enough to notice what’s happening and write that sh*t down.

Oh, my goodness. What a gift! All that discarded matter turns into compost rich in insights. The process of writing and breaking it down frees and heals me. It helps me find the best way forward I can muster.

Recent life events have triggered some soul-searching. Maybe my avoidance of reading has been at least partially driven by a fear of listening and hearing. That dodging may have impeded my development as a person and as a writer for much of my life.

I’ve decided to listen more deeply. Maybe it’s time to hunt up my library card and take out a few books to experience what others are saying.

This time, I may read one or two of them before I take them back.


One thought on “A Case for Reading

  1. Rosalene Sallmen

    I look forward to knowing what it is you choose to read.

    I think good writers have both done the deep reflection on their experiences (as you are doing) and have learned a lot about a variety of effective means of expressing them. I suspect reading with the same concentration on the style as well as the content will lead to even more delightful expressions of your personal learnings. A novel even? But no pressure!


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