Improving My Reading

Rough guess: you’ve heard that good writers must also be good readers somewhere near one billion times. Not without reason, mind you, for it’s quite true. While there is no scientific way to quantify exactly how much a good writer should read, they should always be reading something.

The reasons are obvious; to get used to form, style, voice, tone. To become familiar if not intimate with the specifics of a genre. Even to gain a greater appreciation  for what goes into the creation of a work of fiction.

I read, and I read well. That is to say I have always had a high level of comprehension for what I read. My speed of reading is lower than I would like, I’ll admit, but nonetheless I do keep up a rather steady stream of fiction reading. And I understand structure and formula, (even if I myself sometimes eschew these things in my own writing.) But one can always improve one’s understanding even of things for which one has a natural talent.

To that end, only yesterday I ordered a series of college level lectures on DVD on the subject of what the company calls “artful reading”. The purpose of this audio course, as you can guess, is to enhance one’s ability to glean from fiction (mostly literature) such concepts as character, plotting, symbolism, tone, and all of those other goodies. The student should, by the end of the course, find the consumption of literature easier and more rewarding.

Most of what I read is not considered literature. An elitist term this day and age, to be sure, but one that does carry with it, at least for now, a certain set of criteria. Unlike some, I don’t feel obligated to always read literature. I’m no less intelligent or discerning for reading so-called “general fiction”. Yet I made the determination that by examining the nature of literature more carefully via an enrichment course such as this, I’d be likely to consume literature more often than I do now. That way even if I don’t write much literary fiction I’ll at least come at it with more confidence when I do. It can’t help but elevate my writing.

Who knows? After I conclude the course, perhaps I will revisit all of the “high” literature I was supposed to read, but generally only skimmed back in high school. Okay, probably not. But I do hope future forays into reading classic literature will become less laborious.

In the end, I think I need a break from advice and classes and guidance on how to write better. I’m a bit burned out with that. By taking a course on reading better, I’m bound t improve my writing indirectly. That is the true reason I am doing this.

I’ll keep all of you posted from time to time about how it progresses.

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