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Reading and Writing

June 20th, 2009 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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I am currently reading Stephen King’s “On Writing”. It is a brilliant  and inspiring book, and manages to be practical and warm so far. But the bit that I want to talk about is the first really inspiring part in the book for me.

It was something of a mini revelation. Only a very small point, and very obvious, but one of those things that had occurred to my conscious mind before – it had never struck me (as they say).

It’s the closing chapter of the “CV” section of the book, and is entitled “what writing is”. In it he writes that when he is writing

I’m in another place, a basement place, where there are lots of bright lights and clear images. This is a place I’ve built for myself over the years. It’s a far seeing place.

I recognise this of course, as many writers will. There is a place you go inside your head to see the things you do, and it is from that place that paragraphs will form and travel down your arms, to your fingers, to the page.

It is a little beside the point, but after reading this I thought I would imagine my writing place. The image that came to mind was a warm dungeon, candlelit, and possibly with a well-stocked fireplace nearby. In it I’m writing with pen and paper. I don’t know why that image comes, although it might be to do with Stephen King describing his own place as being in a “basement”. It might be a fun idea to imagine your own writing place and picture it every time you sit down to write. Any ideas in the comments, please.

Anyway, where were we? The real point of this post is what Stephen King goes on to say about reading. He describes it as a similar place, and when I think about it, it does feel like that. It’s interesting to think of reading being the same “place” that writing comes from. I keep a wad of scrap paper stuffed into the back of any book I’m reading. If I feel I want to make a note, I take a piece of paper, write the page number on it (in case it falls out), and write my notes on that, putting it between the pages like a bookmark when I’m done. At this point I wrote:

Writing uses the same place as reading does. That semi-conscious, slightly dark and blurry place. Not like you’re looking at things through distorted glass – that’s too cold and distant. More like you’re submerged in warm water.

Weirdly, I never made the connection.

It’s a more “prosey” note than I’d normally make, but I was inspired – I’d never thought of it like that! Reading is easy for me. I enjoy it a lot. Seeing writing as very similar to reading (the same even), takes some of its intimidating nature away.

In short, I will try and think of writing as another from of reading. Instead of reading from the page, I am reading on to it. This change in attitude may make writing easier. What do you think?