Reading breeding writing

Our homework from Rhobin Courtright for April, 2022 is “How much reading do you do, both for pleasure and for a work in progress?”

In the antediluvian times when I was young, reading was one of my addictions. If a bit of newspaper was blowing along the road I’d run to catch it—and read it before finding a bin to stuff it in. I’ve read every book certain authors have written. These include Ernest Hemingway, William Shakespeare, Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Dick Francis, Agatha Christie, Robert Heinlein, Colleen McCullough… perhaps 20 or 30 different authors in a variety of genres or no genre at all.

Nonfiction was even more addictive, because it fed another addiction: learning. Even in the present, it is a good day when I learn something new.

Things got worse when I became an academic. There was so much to read—including journal articles, textbooks sent to me in the hope I’d recommend them, student essays and assignments—that I needed to learn speedreading.

And that’s deadly when you read for entertainment. I remember picking up a Jane Marple mystery—and it was finished in half an hour instead of filling a pleasurable Saturday afternoon.

That was then. Now?

Now I have little chance to read for pleasure, and the internet has forced reference books into retirement. When I do read fiction, it may be my own writing (work), editing for a client (work), reviewing or beta reading a book (work), or reading something to do with news (torture).

There is one exception. Never mind Buddhist nonattachment, I want my Doom Healer series take the world by storm. To see how I can improve it, in my all too scarce spare time during the past few days I have re-read the five books of David Eddings’ Belgariad. This could also be considered work, but I kept reading well after I’d extracted all the lessons I needed to learn.

Here are a few of them:

I was shocked and somewhat even disgusted by the graphic descriptions of violence, injury and trauma. I’d never noticed before, and I think this is a handicap of my spiritual growth since the last time I’d enjoyed this story. I will certainly not copy this aspect.

David has an excellent way of lightening up the grimmest passages with humour, and I closely studied how he does it. I am now doing a revision of my own story to copy the technique.

He is very leisurely, stopping between high-tension scenes for a little look at scenery, or inside the emotions of a character. I definitely need to do this, never mind the word count.

He often says more by what he doesn’t say than in the words on the page. So do I, but a few beta readers have missed the intended message. Still learning to do here.

At the moment I am insanely busy with an election campaign. Here in Australia, we have an opportunity to get rid of a particularly noxious Prime Monster. The elections will be on 21 May. After that, I may track down a few of my other old favourites, and see how much pleasure I can get from reading/studying them.

I hope you’ve got some reading pleasure from this little essay. Let me know in the comment slot below, then hie off to visit my fellow round-robiners below.
Marci Baun
Connie Vines
Helena Fairfax
Diane Bator
Skye Taylor
Rhobin L Courtright

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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12 Responses to Reading breeding writing

  1. Don Lubov says:

    Thanks! Just plain thanks.D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Delighted to be of service to you, Don, though I am not quite sure what I have done to deserve it. But then, we are brothers of the spirit.


  2. Another great post, Bob. I do know one or two lifetime readers who lost, temporarily, the will to do so. It remains my own favourite pastime. Like Skye, I dolove an excuse to pick up a dictionary. anne (Not posting this month.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Anne. One of my personal cliches is, “Life is too short for the seriousness it deserves,” so you are right. I should reorder my priorities to allow reading for pleasure… after the elections.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. peNdantry says:

    Another very insightful post here, Bob, well done!

    As a teenager, I too was a voracious reader, and wanted to be a writer so that I could emulate some of those authors (I share several of the same with your list here). As time ticked on, I never got any closer to that initial dream, and some years ago I realised why that was: I recognised that even if I did have the requisite skill (and immense amount of luck) to pen a sufficiently popular tome, I would then risk ending up in a situation where I would be obliged to churn out more such, to a schedule and to deadlines: that is to say, it would no longer be pleasurable, it would become work. And so, why try at all?

    I used to harangue my late father for not reading books. He always claimed that he never had the time. At the time, I thought that an excuse, but now I recognise the truth, as I, too, am far too busy with other things to take as much time out to read as I once did. I’ve not forgotten my promise to read your Sleeper Awake… the fact that I’ve not yet begun it preys upon my mind. And, naturally, I want to read your Doom Healer series, too, as well as re-read The Belgariad (I read that long ago, but have forgotten everything about it but its name), and re-read the fabulous The Mote In God’s Eye yet again, and, and, and…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Connie Vines says:

    “And that’s deadly when you read for entertainment. I remember picking up a Jane Marple mystery—and it was finished in half an hour instead of filling a pleasurable Saturday afternoon.”

    Speed reading can be a curse. On the flip side, I dislike audio books because it can take up to 8 hours for the narrator to complete the book. It is a good day when we can learn something new 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Oh, Connie, thank you! A fellow disdainer of audio presentation! My son keeps sending me link to podcasts, and I keep telling him, my leisurely reading speed is four times the rate of speech, not even counting the ums and ahs and “Now, how do I get to the next slide.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rhobin says:

    We have enjoyed some of the same author’s readings. I occasionally go back and reread some of my favorite books. I’m reading Hit And Run and find it intriguing with strong messages. It’s a break from grading student essays.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Rhobin. I’m looking forward to a review of Hit and Run, and while my publisher will like the fact of a sale, as a friend you don’t need to pay for my books. You are welcome to any of them, any time.
      There is a very rapid way of grading student essays, although perhaps the electronic age has sent it after reference books. You stand on top of a staircase, holding the lot of them, and THROW. The one landing furthest one gets top marks, and so on. You automatically get a normal distribution of marks, and there you are.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Skye-writer says:

    I had to chuckle at your enjoyment of academic/study books. I had an English teacher in the 11th and 12th grades who handed out dictionaries the first day in class and announced we’d lose five points for every misspelled word. I was the worlds worst speller and I thought I was doomed, but then, as I did his bidding to look up every word I wasn’t sure about, I discovered all those other delicious words I’d never even heard before. My son is the same. We both can still get lost in a dictionary of all things.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you for the comment, Skye. A thesaurus is even more seductive.
      One of my cliches is, “It’s a good day when I learn something new.”


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