28 January 2009

Reading for life

As I start to rewrite my novel, I've been thinking a lot about the reading I've done over the years, why I've done it, and what I've gotten from it. Honestly, I've been trying to motivate myself to start over. I mention it on the other blog in the link above, but starting over is hard...it's hard to remember that the work I've done so far still means something, even though I've found a better way to say it all.

But back to reading. I always figured that I read to escape, to give my mind something to do, to create worlds and friends in my head when I didn't like the world around me and didn't feel like I had any friends. But I've been reading The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner. She talks about how most writers read, and many started reading because the world didn't satisfy, because they wanted to understand things that weren't explained to them and wanted to know how people functioned and how life worked beyond their experience.

That's totally me!

I mean, I read for all those other reasons, too. But reading has given me so much more than escape, so much more than people to populate my world when the real relationships didn't work or didn't satisfy. I could make a list of the things that reading has given me, but it would go on forever. I'm more intuitive, more big-picture, more interested in psychology and sociology and spiritual growth, more mature, more understanding, more intelligent, more insightful, more creative, more connected to the middle of who I am because of books. I credit a lot of my emotional maturity to the fact that I read and experienced many characters' growth along with them, even before I'd experienced that particular type of growth for myself. I credit a lot of my good decision making to experiencing poor decision making and its consequences through characters. I credit some of my faith to watching God work in different characters lives and experiencing, with them, the ups and downs of that relationship.**

Powerful things, these books. Powerful enough to make me say that I want to try again, to keep writing in hopes that someday I can touch someone the way my heart has been touched so many times.

**On a side note, I've begun to hope that the characters who have touched my life in these ways and so many others are somehow alive in heaven. Maybe it's a pipe dream, maybe I'm totally off the wall, but maybe not. And how cool would that be for an artist, to know that God not only leg him create something on paper, but that his creation has somehow been given life. Please God? Could the real people and the book-people somehow live together?


heather said...

That's me, too. Books (and all of art) are how we work out life and meaning. It's how we make sense of the world. That's why I love talking books with other book-people. It's not about just talking about the books, but about the meaning behind the books, which is the meaning behind our lives.

Anonymous said...

You have said so many power-packed things in this blog. I am still trying to process it all. I have no doubt that the novel you write will touch lives.

I think you nailed it when you explained how reading has changed you in so many ways.

I am glad to see God has given someone sense enough to USE those things to change their lives in a positive direction, and allow their character to be molded.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is reading as an escape. I write as an escape. I especially watch cartoons to escape. I had a friend a few years ago hammer me over my Spongebob addiction. She said it was pointless and stupid.

That is the point......hello. It somehow numbs me to the real world. Is that a good thing? Maybe not, but I don't care. It is safer than alcohol.

christianne said...

That would be so cool! I would so love to meet book characters in heaven. There are so many I'd love to be friends with in a mutual way. :)

I like the way you described how reading has matured you and embedded wisdom in you for the future. It helped me see that that has been my experience of it, too. I remember writing a post sometime last year that talked about how books helped me get inside another person's skin and experience their experience ... which is something I'm doing on a regular basis now in my life, as a listener and as someone training to be a spiritual director.

Sarah said...

Heather--totally...post-modernism aside, there is a point where a book should mean something TO YOU, or you missed the point of reading entirely. We should talk (specific) books sometime.

Tammy--Reading can definitely be a place where I run away to, where I escape...it's all so tied together with the good things, though. And I think it's ok to escape sometimes, if you come back more rested, more whole. Why else do we love vacation so much?

Christianne--Sometimes (by which, I think, I mean "with some books") reading seems like a form of listening. It's letting the world be about someone else for a while (even though they're not real) and letting the story reach you. I love how you talk about mutual relationships with characters...that would be amazing.

L.L. Barkat said...

I liked that book. It helped me understand both sides of the fence... mine and the editor's.

Dean said...

Hi Sarah

Good to finally catch up with what you're up to. I hope the rewriting goes well. Its not something I can even imagine.

Sarah said...

LL--Yeah, I like the book, too. Slow read, though.

Dean--It's great to "see" you here. The rewriting...well, it goes ;) I hope you are well.