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?