Read or Write

I find it hard to remember which I did first, but logically I suppose that it must have been reading; once I learned to read basic words, then I suppose the desire to write them down would follow. Or did I first write my name, shown by my Mother or a teacher and then want to write more words? Did I learn my language and vocabulary by writing? I suspect not.

My dilemma now is how to divide my time between these disciplines. As a writer I have to write, of course, but my love of reading has to be sated too. The question is what is the considered norm? If I read too much am I just procrastinating and avoiding writing? If I write too long will I miss out on the enjoyment of those millions of words, phrases and sentences which have the power to take my breath away? English author Edward Bulwer Lytton in his play Richelieu; said that “The pen is mightier than the sword” and I really believe that phrase to have some truth. Although given those options in battle the choice may well be different.

Writers are usually prolific readers and I am within that circle as I get as much pleasure from reading a well written book as I do the art of writing a story. Reading can also have the opposite effect when devouring a published, but not so well constructed story; it boosts my confidence when I feel I can write better than the prose on the page I’m viewing. Every so often I read a book which the writing is so good the story becomes secondary and sometimes the plot and story is king.

Sometimes as I write, the characters change before me and planned plots alter and evolve seemingly of their own free will. The story changes and curves as the subjects will them to and what I first planned for the process is now very different.

Both writing and reading are solitary pleasures for me. I read best when alone and I always write solo. For me the dilemma remains that when I’m reading I feel I should be writing and visa versa, and I suspect that will never change. I wonder if it’s just me.

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