Reading to Write by Pat Follert

Posted: September 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

I no longer read casually or for pleasure. That ends once you declare yourself a writer. I read novels, short stories and poems as textbooks with vital information to impart. I read to excavate meaning and craft for my own work.   What does this writer have for me? This is a ferocious undertaking which seeks that frisson of recognition, when the writer’s craft-as-art comes off the page into my writer-as-reader self.

No more do I read beneath the covers, Nancy Drew and I huddled in the teepee of my knees in the circle of an ever-dimming flashlight that needed a good shake to keep going.

Yet, the wonder of reading in secret, in the dark, until something moves off the page into me, still thrills.   How close is that to the act of writing?

I read for the moment when I connect to the writer’s pleasure in what he or she has achieved – that makes me jump to the computer and my work.  Carefully chosen words spill secrets. They are fearless. They neither hide nor distract behind empty, beautiful prose, lost in its own reflection. They write through the walls. That is what I learn from good writing now.

I learn by figuratively putting my fingers on the words of an author I admire in the way a child is introduced to the piano keyboard, for the feel of it – a rare osmosis – can art travel this way?  In giving myself over to the words of another is the hope that I will recognize a way into my own work.  It is the sharpening of my ability to discern craft within beauty that lets me know I have struck gold. I read to write.

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