Non-Avid Reader

22 Apr

I sit in the ballroom with 998 other writers at the winter SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. I eagerly await the inspiration and writing wisdom to come.

Then the speeches start. And while speaker after speaker says things like “I think we all were avid readers growing up” and “I think we all have one book that has changed our lives,” I slink down in my seat. I don’t want anyone to know that those statements just don’t apply to me.

“Do you have a ‘one book you’ve read that changed your life’?” I ask my critique partner on the way to the airport. 

She tells me she doesn’t have just one.

I wonder if something is wrong with me. Can a non-avid reader expect to write? Along with a healthy dose of inspiration, I’m taking home the seeds of self-doubt.

What perceived shortcomings do you bring to writing? How do you make up for it?


Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Reading


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4 responses to “Non-Avid Reader

  1. Kelly Ehasz

    April 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Hmm. I think your critique partner misspoke or was misunderstood. Or perhaps I glossed over the truth because I, too, was embarrassed by that aspect of the conference? I don’t entirely remember. Here’s the truth: I was not an avid reader. My parents did not read to me (at least not during the years I can remember, which is ages 3 1/2 and up). They never took me to the library until I was in high school (and even then I made them take me because I had book reports to do). I didn’t even go to preschool, so no outside influences to introduce me to amazing titles. Before kindergarten, I loved my Dr. Seuss books because that’s all I had. When school finally started, I felt quite lost/behind during library class (which I’m pretty sure didn’t even start until first or second grade). The library was super foreign to me, and I’m actually old enough that I learned to read with Dick and Jane texts (blech). I think I finally discovered Judy Blume in about 5th or 6th grade, and then in high school I discovered Agatha Christie. So, I guess I can truthfully say that Dr. Seuss, Judy Blume and Agatha Christie rescued me in terms of liking reading … but no books “changed my life,” and I most certainly was not “an avid reader growing up.” It’s nothing short of a gift and a miracle that I can write, quite frankly.

    • cocoanqueso

      April 23, 2013 at 8:29 am

      I think I probably misunderstood. Regardless, I think your writing is definitely a gift, especially to those of us who get to read it. And you touch on what I’m going to write about on Friday: that it is never too late to become an avid reader!

  2. Kelly Ehasz

    April 23, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Ditto 🙂 … I’m actually still not an avid reader of grown up books. With all the kids books I’ve been reading, I think I’m making up for lost time (kind of like the 5 years I collected Hotwheels cars in my 30s because my mom wouldn’t buy them for me when I was a kid). Perhaps I’ll become an avid reader of adult fiction when I hit my 50s.

    • cocoanqueso

      April 24, 2013 at 9:06 am

      I also read more kids books than adult books now. I think it comes with the children’s writing territory. I don’t know if I’ll ever become an avid adult fiction reader. Totally normal, right?


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