I have been reading books for over fifty years, a never-ending flow of different authors it seems. It’s a passion, a comfort, a friend thing! For a couple of years after a trauma I lost the ability to stay with a book or magazine for more than a few sentences and became depressed as a result; I felt lonely without the books, without the worlds I could inhabit within their pages.
I have to say I was never so concerned about the authors themselves, only their stories. Maybe I would read the little spiel about them, but often I wouldn’t. The names of those whose writing I truly enjoyed I memorised to enable me to buy the next one they wrote. Authors were rather grand folk –at least we thought they were, back then in the 50s and 60s. Intellectuals, they had to be; what else?
I lived these books and never tried to analyse them but when I approached the sixth form I suddenly discovered it was a must in higher education – I hated it, wrecking the world so wonderful created by those mysterious authors. I found I didn’t wish to find a hidden meaning. I wouldn’t! Of course I had to and those few books have languished unread a second time, completely ruined for me.
I wandered the world making up alternative worlds for myself and reading of others; not until I reached my 40s and went to university did I come across this cross examination of books again. I coped better with dissecting text books!
When, as I mentioned above, I lost my books I turned in despair to a book/reading group. I had always avoided them as I believed it would be a re-run of school. Well I suppose in a way it was but the intensity of academic analysis wasn’t there and through this ‘homework’ I found my reading again. I belong to two such groups now. I enjoy them very much and have discovered quite a few new authors I would probably have missed. I am, however, growing uneasy.
I am no longer just a reader of books I have joined those mysterious ‘authors’. I now weave those stories, launch them on the unsuspecting world and find they are being analysed in their turn. Hidden meanings or meanings that I never intended being found. They are someone else’s alternative world now. I retain copyright but one can never retain possession of your created world once it leaves you.
I find this a strange state to be in. Am I reader first or a writer? It is becoming more difficult to read a book without the writer/critic hat upon my head. I still live in new worlds while I read but I increasingly find that mooching through my days from necessity means inhabiting the world I am creating for my own books. I agree with the maxim that one needs to read to write but during the months I am writing my reading drops to almost zero (I have to catch up in between times). It is too confusing having other people’s thoughts jostling with mine.
I wonder if this is a normal reaction from those of us who write or is a symptom of ‘old age’. Maybe it’s the length of time I have been reading which accounts for the condition. Maybe, just maybe, the brain finds switching from reader to writer too difficult. How do I like the thought that others are interpreting my stories to suit themselves as I have done a thousand times before? Putting their experiences on my characters and colouring my invented worlds with their own fears and fancies? Do I relish them picking the books apart at book groups? I am an author now so I may expect this. I am a reader and consider it my right. I have noticed though when I read a book now I tread more lightly in my criticism; I can imagine the hours spent in creating each page.
The whole physicality becomes different. As a reader I could curl up, cosy and relaxed, feet over the arm of the chair; absorbed, unblinking, unhearing. As a writer I sit in an office chair staring ahead at the screen. I must stop every now and then to check this, look up that. Maybe I will stare into space trying to unlock one particular word. There is nothing particularly relaxing about creating a book. That pleasure belongs to the reader.
What is different now with my move to writing is the act of reading has changed in many subtle ways. It’s as if I have crossed over some invisible bridge and joined another group, another village if you like. With family links across the divide. Eager to become assimilated into the new group but always hankering back to the former. Would I change back? No. I gain immense satisfaction in the process of creating a novel. I have after all had half a century of reading I very much doubt I’ll have that of writing!
I am running a give away during the tour.
2 winners of draw will win an e-book edition of
The first two books of the Sefuty Chronicles
Ellen’s Tale and The Storyteller’s Tale
3 runners up will win an e-book edition of
(unless already read in which case The Storyteller’s Tale)
How to win
A comment on each visited host site gives you one chance to win, also on my sites on those days I am posting there during the tour
an extra entry will be given if you mention the post on Twitter or Facebook
an extra entry will be given for a mention of the post/tour on your own blog
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