I was born in the middle of last century.

I don’t like that sentence, but it’s based on a true story.

I’ve been a writer for close to twenty years – but a reader for more than fifty. That’s another solid truth, as is: Reading is more important than writing.

But to be frank: it boils down to the same thing. What I’m actually up to when I’m writing a story is that I’m reading it. This borders on a truism; it’s my reader’s eyes that tell me whether it’s good or awkward, whether it’s taking a right bend or a wrong one, whether the characters smell of life or not – not my writer’s eyes, because they are turned inward toward that dark, infinitesimal abyss that is my mind.

Håkan Nesser
Portrait of the Artist as an Old Dog

six stages of book-reading

October 10, 2019

It occurs to me that there are six stages of book-reading: The first is picture books, then 2) books with more illustrations than words, then 3) books with more words than illustrations, then 4) books with no illustrations, just a map maybe, or a family tree, but lots of dialogue, then 5) books with long paragraphs and hardly any dialogue, then 6) books with no dialogue, no narrative, just great long paragraphs and footnotes and bibliographies and appendixes and very, very small writing.

Intellectually speaking, I’m still stuck somewhere between ages four and and five.

David Nicholls
Starter For Ten

an automatic process

October 8, 2019

A rhythm in each sentence, music almost, each syllable slotting neatly into place. It’s an automatic process. When I read out loud, I do not read but sing in my head. It’s natural, I associate any and every sentence to a tempo.

not reading enough

October 8, 2019

I’ve been joking with the others in my workshop that I’m on the Reading Recovery programme this year. Ha ha. But when I had my first meeting with Damien, and tried presenting this as an amusing quirk — ‘Oh! and did I mention? I don’t read, really’ — he did look a bit alarmed. Writers are all so different, he said, but the one thing all writers must also be is readers. And I said, ‘Well, yes, OK, I’m not saying this is a good thing.’

I remember once, a few years ago, I asked my friend Amelia what she was planning to do that evening. She said, ‘I think I’ll go home and read my book’. ‘My book’. That phrase — the ‘my’ and then the ‘book’ — made me feel a pang of resentment. I don’t have a book. Even when I’m reading something, I don’t think of it as ‘my’ book, but rather, as ‘a’ book.

So I have been thinking about my relationship with books and clearly it is not an easy one. I feel guilty for not reading enough, and jealous of people who do read. I admit that yesterday when I saw a woman on the 23 bus with José Saramago’s Blindness cradled on her lap, I actually hated her.

Emma Kate Martin
Excerpts from a Reading Journal, 2009

writing poetry

September 30, 2019

I started writing poetry as a child. Just a few lines at first (with some funny rhymes, or at least I thought they were funny back then). I never really stopped for very long, but kept writing as a teenager, and on into what people think of as the adult years. I’m now old! and still writing. In my twenties the question of when one could call oneself a poet seemed important, and kind of anxiety-producing. But later I realized that the point is that anyone who is writing poetry is, by definition, a poet. If you keep writing, you get better at it…

I think of poetry more as what they used to call a “vocation” rather than as a job. That is, something you really want to do, and hope to have a talent for, and time. And something you can learn a lot about from others who also write.

Roo Borson
Interview with Poetry in Voice

Good decision…

September 7, 2019


August 11, 2019

…I preferred books to the world of reality, and something of that has remained with me — a slight taste for eternity.

Simone de Beauvoir
The Mandarins

many marvellous moments

August 3, 2019

There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvellous moments seen all at one time.

Kurt Vonnegut

Over the centuries, truly great raconteurs—those whose stories we listened to—have been replaced by writers and in some cases, great cinematographers. However, even great movies usually start with the lure of the written word.

Did a particular book brighten your life recently? Did it cause you to smile or laugh out loud? Reading’s good for your health. If you weren’t enjoying a book, did you have the courage to set it aside and find another, one that you did enjoy?

Have you taken a bite of something literary that you haven’t tasted before, like sampling at a buffet? Have you looked closely at a story from a new angle—a wide angle, a close up, or a macro—a view you hadn’t previously considered?

While reading, keep on processing what works, and what doesn’t. Good writing is bound to influence us, while stories give us an opportunity to absorb different perspectives on the world.

And here’s a special reminder from author Annie Proulx: “Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” Without reading, there would never be any writers.

Michaele Lockhart
Story, Reading and Writers

The lure

June 22, 2019

She feels the lure of sitting with a good book, a big thick one of the kind that leave an impression stronger and realer than life itself.

Hanne Ørstavik