Monday, April 23, 2012

Writers Who Don't Read, and Other Mythological Creatures

Three mythological creatures I just don't buy.

Writers who don't read.

I'm critting a novel for a girl who says she doesn't like to read. I don't get that. At all. It's like she's trying to learn a foreign language, but refuses to listen to anyone who is fluent in it, or take a class, or read a textbook about conjugating verbs. In essence, she's trying to recreate a new language without checking to make sure she's pronouncing things correctly.

Why make life more difficult than it needs to be? A lot of the things she struggling with have answers she would get from reading the right book. I can't tell you how many times I found the answer to a problem from a book, or found the trigger that instigated a story out of a novel I'd just been reading.

But she says, she just not a "reader."

I think writing is like talking, and reading is like listening. Have you ever met anyone who liked to talk, but refused to listen. I sure have, and they're obnoxious. Don't be obnoxious. Read.

People who aren't "Readers"

My husband says he isn't a reader, but I emphatically disagree. I think he is a reader, he just hasn't found that one book yet, that book that sinks its teeth into him and won't let go. I know what book it was for me, Melanie and MaryAnn both posted about what book did it to them. Maybe he just hasn't found his book yet.

I just don't understand people who aren't readers. Yesterday, my husband and I were looking online at the new Ender's Game movie. When he saw the cast list on IMDb, he said to me, "Why are there so many kids in this movie? Are there a bunch of kids in Ender's Game?"

I just looked at him. I married you? I though briefly. We've been married eight and a half years, and in all of that time it never once crossed my mind that my husband hadn't read Ender's Game.

I'm going to try to make him read it, hopefully it'll be the book that inspires him, but no promises. He wants to wait for the movie.

A couple of months ago, I was returning one of my kids books to the library, and I had to pay for it, because it was damaged. I said to the librarian, "Oh no, I think we might have a Ramona moment." She looked at me, and I kid you not, she said, "Who's Ramona?"

I stood there, "Ramona Quimbly. Beverly Cleary. Beezus and Ramona?" Still no look of recognition crossed her face. "You're a librarian, and you don't know Ramona?"

It's obnoxious. Don't be obnoxious. Read.

People who like the Bachelor.

I've been told, (through words, and body language) that reading books is a neglect of duties to my family or my house, or that "I'd read too, if I didn't have so much to do," as if reading should be number one of time wasting diversions to avoid.

 As a person who is trying to write as a profession, reading is my education, my training, and my certification. Reading is not like watching The Bachelor.

I mean, come on. The Bachelor? Come on.  It's obnoxious. Don't be obnoxious.



  1. A female librarian who doesn't know Ramona? Can't you report her or something? That's like a doctor who doesn't know what pennicillin is, or an Architect who doesn't know what a T-square is. That's just sad.
    There are very few things that you do for yourself that also benefit your children. I may spend hours reading, but now that my 9 y.o. has found "his book" (thankyou Rick Riordan, I am nominating you for saint hood) and spends hours reading on his own accord, I think "Ha! I did that! My child can read! Now put that book down and go clean your room like I told you 7 times already!" If I wasn't a reader, then there is very little chance of my children picking up a book.

    1. I did think of reporting her, but then I saw she was born in the nineties, so maybe it's just a sign of growing up in a certain generation. Maybe she missed the Ramona window, and honestly that's so sad.

    2. My third grader loves Ramona, so I don't buy the whole generational thingie. Of course, I'm sure your librarian knew about Junie B. Jones. At least I hope so. They do have to pass a literacy test to be a librarian, don't they?

  2. To my defense....
    I do like reading. Just not the type of reading my wife likes. I'm not a big fantasy book reader. Probably because I don't like putting in the effort. Yes I am lazy like that.
    I love self help/non-fiction books. They are my favorite. I like being able to help myself change or even be open to new ideas. I like to change my frame of mind.

    I feel honored that Sheena wrote about me!
    Love you,

    1. You've got to read Ender's Game before the movie. Seriously. I wouldn't lie to you about this one.

    2. I love you! I'm glad we're different, and that you don't like to read the kind of stories I write. I'm glad my hubby leaves me the freedom and privacy to write whatever I want. It makes me a better writer, knowing that I don't have to worry about what he is thinking and feeling. Also, that means I have something that's just mine, which helps me keep my identity within our very loving couple.

      But I couldn't do it without his support. He's amazing.

  3. I love what you said about how reading is like listening and writing is like talking. So true!!!

    I think there are a lot of people who love movies and TV and have great imaginations and would like to come up with their own stories. Even though they don't read books, writing a novel seems like an easy way to share their story with the world. Everyone knows how to type words on a screen, right? Eye roll.

    While there are a lot of elements of storytelling that apply to both novels and movies, there are also vast differences between the two. Creating images with words isn't just typing. You kinda need to see how other people have managed it.

  4. AWESOME!!!! I totally agree with everything you said. Trying to be a writer without reading is like trying to be a chef without eating. And it kills me when people say they want to write a book, but don't spend a lot of time reading. How can you know how to write a book if you don't ever read one?
    I also love the part about how reading is NOT EVER a waste of time. My husband will say, "Stop reading." And I will answer back, "Sorry, can't. I'm working."
    Great post! Thanks.

  5. Your last point is well taken. One of my main goals for 2012 is to leave the TV off unless there's something specific on I want to watch. I'm not succeeding so far but I am watching less TV which frees up a lot more time for reading/writing...and screwing around on the internet.

    Who's Ramona?

  6. I read a book once called Courage & Craft by Barbara Abercrombie. This is what she said about the reading/writing relationship:

    "My friend, if you don't like to read, don't write. There's no reason to. You'll be able to stand the loneliness, the frustration, and the rejections of writing only if you are passionately, madly in love with books, with reading, with words. If your heart doesn't start thumping with anticipation when you walk into a library or a bookstore, if you don't rationalize all the reasons why you must absolutely order all those books online and damn the expense, if your idea of hell isn't being stuck on a plane without a book to read, then quite simply: don't write."

    I loved that quote so much that I put it in a quote journal, because it is so very true. I can't understand why anyone would WANT to write if they didn't love to read. That's what got me into writing. It's also what fuels my desire to keep going. Not to mention that it's the best education a writer can get (and it's free!) Thanks for the post. I've got a few friends that would benefit from reading it, although since they don't read, I guess they'll miss out.

  7. I can't imagine not reading, except I didn't for 10 years after I found out I had severe osteoporosis. I vowed never to sit unless I had to. Then one day I had the idea of reading while I walked, and I've been book-walking ever since. As for Ramona, either I missed the window during my hiatus or she's not fantasy or SF. Definitely not scriptural. But I don't feel bad that I missed her because the few hundred books I marked on Goodreads represent maybe a tenth of books I did read. So many awesome characters, and some not so much. I tried and failed to get hubby to read Ender's Game too. Sigh. I'd love it if you helped me choose my book hook, just submitted to inkPagent. Thanks!


Got an opinion? Use it! Remember... be silly, be honest, and be nice/proofread.