Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

IWSG February 2017 - Reading as a Writer

It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read other members, click here.

This month, its all about the question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

In high school, I took a creative writing class taught by a poet during which we had to keep a writing journal we passed in every couple of weeks for grading. We’d get it back with comments in the margins. 
   
During a study hall one day, I was writing my journal and I happened to look out the window to see bare trees, which led to a little poem that started something like this: “The spindly fingers of the leafless tree stretch into a sunless sky…

I didn’t give the poem another thought until I received my journal back from the teacher after the next grading cycle. Beside that first line of the poem she’d written: “I wish I wrote that.” Given that I remember it all these years later, I guess you could say I was tickled.

That little story sums up how writing has changed my experience as a reader. I constantly stop, reread, marvel and think, “I wish I wrote that.” 

Take this gem from the book I’m currently reading, Mother of Pearl, by Melinda Haynes. At the top of page two, I had to stop because of this:

He had never known such colors. Never dreamed brown was such a rainbow. He’d always thought of brown as brown, the color or burnt toast or worn-out shoes. But after months on end he’d learned to parcel out the values into new shades fast approaching the limit of his imagination—Ten-minute Tea. Steeped-Too-Long Tea.  Barely Tea. Wet Bark. Sun-Baked Bark. Old-as-Sin Bark. Old Soggy Leaves. Just-Dropped Leaves. Fresh Wet Leaves. And these were just the browns. He had yet to go on to green, which he was just now beginning to see.  Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes.

It strikes me that in order to write about colors that way, the author had to see them that way, somehow, somewhere, and then translate it into words. Oh, yes. I'd be over the moon if I came up with something like that.

How brilliant one must be to create even a single paragraph remotely resembling the one above. I respect that talent. I strive for that skill. And yet, even if I never make it, it’s all good. 

At the very least, reading good writing feeds my soul.

14 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd say you came really close. That was quite a compliment. And you know you have it in you to write more like that.

Fundy Blue said...

Loved that, Liza: "Reading good writing feeds my soul." It feeds mine too! I wish I had written it. Enjoy visiting around on IWSG Wednesday!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liza - fascinating and now wonder you remember her compliment. Love the thought of those colours ... browns ... wonderful description ... learning new and creative concepts ... Keep going and good luck - have confidence .. cheers Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

Yes, good writing definitely spurs me on to do better myself. Thanks for sharing!

Nick Wilford said...

Yes, good writing definitely spurs me on to do better myself. Thanks for sharing!

Jan Morrison said...

When I'm reading a good novel I do not notice the writing. Just like if I'm watching a good film I don't notice the camera work. If I'm reading essays or poetry I do notice the writing in quite a different way. I will think on this some more.

I love your poetry and not surprised one bit that your teacher was envious of your line. I've felt that before when reading you!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love this post, Liza! And you're right - even if we never achieve that talent, that skill, we still get to read the works of those who can, who do. And our souls will be better for it. :)

Bish Denham said...

You are a beautiful writer. I often (silently) envy the way you lay down words. And...I hear you when it comes to reading something and wishing I could write like that. Steinbeck did that to me all the time. And Gibran.

Joanne said...

I like this post a lot. Indeed, I love when you read a passage or an author and you just have to pause and reflect. I try to not be super picky when I read - I just want to escape. But I do notice quality.
As a writer, I am more critical of myself (as we all are) - we want the reader to have that pause...that moment of wow.
You are there ( I think) in many of your poems and posts - you truly put in the word effort and it shows

Julie Flanders said...

What a great compliment you received! It's no wonder you still remember it. That's awesome.

mshatch said...

I had a teacher like that and I think that was the start of it. Great description of brown. I wanted to read about green.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I often have thought that. I wish I had written a lot of things so I keep plugging away and trying to get better.

Arlee Bird said...

Yes, when I think "I wish I'd wrote that" then that is my aspiration. To have this said about ones own writing is a good reason to keep writing. A moment of brilliance is wonderful, but those moments give us something to strive for in our stretches of more mundane writing.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Connie said...

I agree--so many times I have had that same feeling that I wish I had written something that I read. I think reading helps enrich my writing too because it often offers up a new perspective for me.