As I talked about in the last post, I’m missing one of the important credentials necessary to becoming a writer. Namely, that I wasn’t an avid reader as a child.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like to read when I was young. I just liked being outside and being active more. In fact, I read a lot more in the summer when I could read outside and I had more time, without the obligations of school, to also be active.
My friend and critique partner, Kelly, also shared her experiences of not being an avid reader:
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.
That’s some serious stuff. I know now that not being a year-round reader definitely had an influence on me, too. I’m a terrible speller. And I’ve noticed my vocabulary is a little stunted compared to the vocabularies of those who were avid readers. But I also think I have some traits to make up for those faults.
One of those is that I was a writer first. I talk about my introduction to writing in other areas of this blog. I’ve also always had the drive to write when I’m upset or something goes wrong. Writing my feelings or recounting events seems to help me make sense of things. Writing, for me, is a need.
I’ve also always enjoyed learning. No, really. I did. And do. Not all learning (ahem, math), but I liked learning about things that interested me. Some history (when it was taught in stories rather than rote memorization of dates), current events, science, language and culture introduced me to a lot of neat stuff.
My need to write and learn helped me make up for not always being an avid reader. But, I also think that not being an avid reader had its perks.
When I wasn’t busy with reading, I was busy with other things: dancing, religious education classes, running, playing outside, pretending, and (briefly) girl scouts. I can see all those experiences coming out as material for my writing.
I do think it is important to be a reader for so many reasons. I’m certainly encouraging that with Mister. But I also think living is important. Rather than just reading, I think it is the sum of a person’s experiences, and the responses to those experiences, that makes him or her a writer. Like most things, it seems to be a good balance of things that makes a good writer.
Author Aimee Carter tells her own reluctant reader story: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2013/02/true-confessions-of-reluctant-reader.html
The advantages to being an avid reader: http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2012/04/09/your-brain-on-books-20-proven-benefits-of-being-an-avid-reader/
Tips for parents of kids who don’t like to read: http://www.supernanny.co.uk/Advice/-/Learning-and-Education/-/4-to-13-years/Help.-My-child-doesn’t-like-reading.aspx