A Painful Experience: Reading through a Writer’s Eyes

“It is a travesty that such a horribly written book is now a nation-wide best seller and being turned into a movie!!!” I am sure that many of us have thought this at one point or another. I have a few specific recent books that I have in mind, but my purpose of this post is not to debate, so I will not name them. Rather, my purpose is to discuss how reading others’ writing can be sometimes downright excruciating when you are a writer.

Before I became a writer and learned the craft, I was an oblivious reader and I loved it. I didn’t pay attention to the character development or the plot structure. I simply read a book and if all of these unknown pieces fit together in some sort of a collective understanding that interested me, I was good to go. And it became a “Wow, that was a great book! You have to read it!” kind of book.

Now that I am doing my own writing and overly conscious of plot structure and character development and the 500 other things you need to think about as a writer, I find myself looking for these characteristics in others’ writing. On one hand, it is a great exercise to be able to first know the good characteristics of writing and then to pull out examples in other writing. Those examples help to strengthen your own writing. On the other hand, it simply just takes the fun out of reading for me anymore. It’s hard for me to enjoy reading when I am constantly drawing a plot outline in my head and figuring out if overall, the book was written well. Like I’m a literary critic now or something. 🙂

Oh well. The only thing that consoles me in this perturbing matter is that I do have my favorite writers whom are just geniuses in my eyes and do no literary wrong. So I usually can relax and just enjoy those reads without having my literary police hat on.

If anyone else struggles with this, or would like to share their opinions of good and bad reads out there right now, I would love to hear from you!

The Literary Voyeur

I see him. He watches me from the apartment across the way. As I walk past the floor to ceiling windows in the New York City apartment, I catch a glance of him. He looks out of the his window and his stare remains fixed on me at the moment of realization that he has been caught. My heart jumps quickly when I realize that I have been on display in the fishbowl that serves as the apartment. I quickly dart from the window and protect myself from exposure behind the comfort of a wall. As I continue to walk around the apartment, I nonchalantly glance over at the window and surprisingly his stare remains penetrable. In any other similar circumstance, I would become uneasy in this sort of situation. But not in this one. And you ask, why is that?

My voyeur is a dog.

True story, my friends. I am visiting in New York City, staying in a beautiful apartment, and there is this wonderful dog across the way that sits at his owner’s window all day long and stares across to me. The ironic part of this is that my own black lab lays on the couch ten feet from the window and is completely ignorant to the fact that she too has a secret watcher. And if I am being completely honest with my myself, my furry friend is truly seeking to see her, I am merely a second glance. 🙂

Consequently, as I build my blogging experience, I have learned that I now walk through life with a different view through my “writing” eyes. We come across random life experiences and think, “Wow, this is a great topic that someone will want to read about. I need to write about this!” So this was a moment for me.

However, I am also learning that when you have a blogging audience, you need to keep their interests in mind. My audience are primarily writers so if I blatantly just write about voyeurism, those of us writers that don’t have wild sexual oddities may wonder off. 🙂 So to keep that from happening, here is the connection from my story to writing.

As a side note, I am using the term voyeur loosely as I am extracting the observer portion of the definition and leaving behind the sexual pleasure component behind. Us writers can do that, right? 🙂

I am a reading specialist and in my education, it is engrained into us that reading influences writing and writing influences reading. Good readers become good writers and via versa. The reading to writing to reading connection is a cycle. I look at my above experience and make this literary connection. When we read, we are in essence voyeurs. We are looking into the lives of fiction and non-fictional characters through the lense of text rather than with our sight.

Our voyeuristic need is what drives us to read.

For some odd reason, human beings have this innate need to learn about others. Whether it is to catch a glimpse at someone in the car next to you at the light or to peer out the window to watch your neighbor receiving visitors at their house.

Everyone has voyeuristic  moments and those of us that enjoy reading are a part of that group and those of us that are writers like to be watched. 🙂

 

I don’t want to be alone.

I find it interesting that since my father died 2 1/2 months ago, I find myself looking for that “right” song or book that explains how I have been feeling through my grief. And through my search, I can’t help but feel a bit silly when I search songs about dying on the internet. I may as well search “I want to spend the next 45 minutes crying. Have any ideas?”

I know that I am not the only one that does this as numerous websites abound with endless ways to happily make yourself sad. Why do we do this to ourselves?

There are several answers to this, I am sure, but this is mine. Human beings, as the fragile species as we are, simply do not want to be alone. We don’t want to be physically alone as is evident that we spend our entire lives searching for our soul mate and a very small portion of us find that person. Thank god I am part of this special group. Just thinking about wandering around life alone makes me nervous.

We hate being emotionally alone too. It makes us uneasy to think that we are the only person who has ever had these feelings and we feel the need to share and learn how others cope with these same feelings.

This human need is what creates writers. We search for these emotional connections through our writing. We validate our emotions on paper. If we are writing non-fiction, then our emotions are blaring straight out on paper for our readers to relate to either positively or negatively. If we are writing fiction, we have the ability to mask our emotions among shields of untruths.

Writing has many purposes, but as a writer, I use writing as emotional outlet. My goal is to hide that from my reader. That’s fiction for you, right?