“The first time I read a new book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend; when I read over a book I have perused before it resembles the meeting with an old friend.” Oliver Goldsmith
This quote resonates with me because I have been known to read and re-read books, sometimes yearly. I’ve read Gone with the Wind once ever year since I was in college. I read every Nora Roberts book when it is first released and then when it is re-released. The joy I experience when I read The End in a book, is only surmounted by the joy I feel when I start a favored book again. It doesn’t matter that I know the outcome. What matters is that the story being read is a good one. And, like Goldsmith alludes to in his quote, the meeting of the words again is like meeting up with an old and treasured friend.
Why do I write? I’ve explored this topic before, but today I can answer it in a little more depth by asking, “Why do I read?”
Why do we read? What compels us, as a civilized people, to record our words? Many reasons come to my mind, not the least of which is to be entertained. I enjoy losing myself in a book, its characters, its plot lines and twists. A good story, like a good story teller, is a commodity. Anyone can write a book. All you need is a basic command of the language and a plot. But to write a good story, one that lasts, tests the passage of time, that entertains, educates, and makes one think, that takes talent. I read nowadays to be entertained. In college, I read to be educated. When I was in grade school, I read in order to learn how to read: what the definition of the words were, what the punctuation meant. As a baby I was read to in order to calm me down and prepare me for bed.
When we only had real bound books and paper products to read, such as newspapers and magazines, reading was something we usually did in the privacy of our homes or at school. The techno-age, which may end up being the death of paper, has allowed our civilization the freedom to read at any time, any where, and to read anything. Books, magazines, periodicals, blogs, diaries, history, spreadsheets, anything that can be printed that needs to be read can now be uploaded and stored on a myriad of personal devices. People now read while standing in line at the grocery market, waiting for trains and plains, even while walking down the street – which can prove hazardous! And we still read for all the same reasons: to be entertained, educated, informed, enlightened, stimulated, and calmed.
I have a Kindle, a Kindle app on my Ipad and a Kindle app on my phone so I am never without my current reading material. NEVER. I remember a time when I went on vacation and had to limit myself to one hardbound book so as not to take up too much of my suitcase room. Now, I take my Ipad and I have thousands of books at my fingertips any time I want.
So. Back to why I read. Basically, I like to lose myself in characters that bare no resemblance to me and into plots that I will never find myself embroiled in. For a few stolen hours I like to imagine worlds where love does concur all, good always triumphs over evil, and greed is not good. So because those are the sorts of books I like to read, those are also the sorts of books I like to write.
There’s an old adage that states “Write what you know.” If I were the one penning that concept, I would say, “Read and write what you like.”
I do. Do you?