Who Has Time to Be Literary?

Or, to put it another way, who has time to pay significant attention to the staggering amount of “serious” writing effervescing into the ether from the brains and fingers of Writers?

To put it still another way, who has time to pay all that significant attention and still write?

Because I pay a lot of attention. I listen to Bookworm, I read the New York Times Book Review. I read the midweek book reviews (sometimes). I read Motoko Rich’s coverage of publishing and book trends. I read fiction. I read essays. I read interviews with authors. I forage on the Internets for rare clumps of green grasses.

But I haven’t been getting any fiction writing done myself.

A while back, a blogger for one of the London papers wondered if we (the reader-types) were spending too much time reading about books, and not enough time actually reading books themselves. Well, I wonder if I’m spending too much time reading in general, and not enough time writing.

Because the reason I do all of this reading is that it provides a sense of accomplishment and enrichment, even if the results are only noticeable to me and exist only in my own head. The drive to seek out the sort of accomplishment and enrichment reading provides is a result of a nagging feeling that I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing.

I don’t know enough about narrative structure. I don’t know enough about human psychology. I don’t know enough about how things work. And etc.

The answer, however, is probably more writing. There needs to be a balance, I suppose. It’s just that reading is so much easier to get done than writing…

(This is all a lot of navel gazing, I know. O, it’s so hard to be a writer. Wahh. This is just me sort of thinking out loud.)

2 Replies to “Who Has Time to Be Literary?”

  1. I’m teaching narrative writing right now, and I just ran across this quote from Stephen King (which I’m sure you’ve seen before). “Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”

  2. I have read that before (“On Writing” is one of my favorite books). Deep down, even as I was writing this post, I knew that was the right answer (read a lot, write a lot). But it just feels lately like there’s not enough time for both. That’s partly because the holidays just passed and partly because we’re moving in a month and partly because I have a two-year-old. That’s a lot of partly’s 🙂

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