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.