Grieving the Reader’s Experience

Let me be clear on one thing: I love literature.  I really, really do.  That’s why I’m a writer!

But being a writer has also drastically changed my reading experience.

In the words of Billy Collins, “Readers read great work and feel appreciative.  Writers read great work and feel a burning jealousy.”

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I just wanted to share that– in some ways– I grieve the true reader’s experience.  It’s becoming more and more rare that I can just fully take in a great book with an open, generous heart.  There is this little flame of envy that licks all over my body, and while I think it’s a bit uncharitable, it also both reminds me that I’m a writer and fuels my writing.

Though I am terribly grateful that I’m a writer down to my bones, sometimes I do long for those golden moments of childhood when I could just embrace a book with nothing but love.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love books– with a deep, passionate, fiery love– but there is usually envy in that matchhead too.  Envy and analysis: how did the author do that?  Can I do that?  What if I were to …

Sometimes I miss it.  That’s all I wanted to say.

Había una vez... (Once upon a time) by Carolina Pratto

Había una vez… (Once upon a time) by Carolina Pratto

4 thoughts on “Grieving the Reader’s Experience

  1. I 100% relate to this post. I’ve been trying to read more and more outside of the genre I writer to recapture the reading experience. Sometimes I’m stil jealous, but it seems to feel more like reading used to before I was taking my writing seriously.

  2. Oh I TOTALLY get that. In my case though, it is movies. Since I’ve been doing some amateur acting, lots of times I observe movies for acting, scenery, direction, etc. I’m also really involved in the creative elements of our church services and I’m constantly scanning for lighting, stage design ideas, etc. Spent the whole Super Bowl half-time show just watching the lighting and trying to figure out how I could translate that stuff for a church service!

  3. I agree. I am able to suspend those inner-commentaries about many books, but it has to be somewhat decently written. I am not able to completely ignore bad writing. If I pick up a book and it plods along, is full of errors, or has poor consistency or plausibility, I will have a hard time finishing it. I can turn it off quite a bit, but I do have a different threshold than I did before I started writing.

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