Edible Language

 “Reading is like food to a writer; without it, the writer part of you will die—or become spindly and stunted.”

                                       –Kim Addonizio (Ordinary Genius) 

I know I promised that driving post ages ago, but rather than forcing it and grinding out another insipid, Frankensteined mess trying to pass itself off as legitimate writing, I thought I would go with the flow of inspiration and offer up what greases the wheels of my mind today.

Contrary to popular belief, I am chronically under read. As I mentioned in Endless Academia, I hated reading for the better part of my childhood and was a miserable failure at it after that point. Now I adore it, but unfortunately, passion is still not enough to push speed and comprehension to the levels too many studies say someone like me should be at given my education. However, despite my deficiency, this year, I’m going to correct the failings of my literature-lacking past and catch up to the expectations that have always surrounded me. I intend to read one to two books a month (I wish I could manage more, but I doubt I will so rather than disappoint myself, I’ll stick to something feasible), at least three blogs a day, a minimum of a chapter a day of one of the far too many books I’m reading presently (the current count is seven), one short story, and four poems. As the introductory quotation states, reading is necessary for writing, though honestly, the relationship is more symbiotic than Addonizio suggests; without writing there is no reading and without reading, why write? Yet her point remains: reading makes us want to write. I am never so energized, so positively charged with the Olympian lightning of Muse-molded creation as I am when I’m reading. Naturally, not every book or blog will bring me to life-like that, but those that do move me internally and externally in turn, until emotions make a mask of my face so ecstatic that the psych-ward is suddenly on the table, until a hand puts its pen to parting pages with ink, unapologetic as it lewdly spreads them in a lusty smear of ideas. Yes, each action of inspiration happens in turn until my mind is emptily exhausted for the effort, but bathing in the afterglow of words well spent.

Today I read five blogs and one article. Several of the posts came from Eating the Pages,which I found Freshly Pressed. His words worked their way into me and birthed more of my own, both in comments and on one of the sites he references: Good Reads. On this website, a user can mark books they wish to read, read the reviews of those books written by other users, mark the books they’ve read, rate the books they’ve read, write reviews for them, note the books they own and even the editions. I spent a good deal of time going through it, though I am by no means finished. This is my accountL. Alexandra’s Good Reads’Profile. I intend to start writing reviews for the books I’ve read and those that I will soon be finishing, which will help me as both a reader and writer (“To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach,” I’ll take two out of three and then pretend this blog constitutes the third). Not to mention that, frankly, I adore analyzing things and am indeed, the student that gleefully beams with appled-cheeks and eager eyes when a teacher announces an essay.

Literature-based analyses and essays are my favorite and when I take Lit. classes, I try to read all the books once through before the semester starts just to experience them as they are, then I read them again with a more analytical appetite as pages and assignments are doled out like daily rations. The rereading allows me to look at the complete work, rather than at its story and catching lines alone, it allows me to examine it without the impatience of “But what happens next?” There is something fulfilling about looking at a book again and breaking the whole into malleable pieces that become the playthings for inference and personal perspective. If you have never tried to analyze a literary work, I highly suggest it, especially if you do so through a lens (Feminism, Marxism, Deconstructionism, Symbolism etc.). You will gain more than previously possible just by prying open the words and peering at the implications that anchor them. Are there reoccurring themes? How many times did Nabokov refer to Humbert Humbert as an ape or beast? Where does Angela Carter’s root system in “The Smile of Winter” lead? What does the protagonist’s love of the sky say about his life? The best way to find answers is to ask questions. So please, go read, go write, go analyze and offer insight. When you’re done, why not come back and share what you’ve learned?

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4 comments on “Edible Language

  1. Roxanne says:

    You are becoming a master-wordsmith, no pun intended! You would be a great editor or opinion writer!

  2. hownottokillyourparents says:

    I’m sending an award your way :)
    http://missprofessorcasey.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/aww-shucks/

  3. Very cool post Little Lauren! I added you as a friend on Goodreads. I am quite excited to read your reviews, and I’m very happy you like the site. Goodreads has been quite helpful in my tracking and reviewing of my books.
    I love the way you elaborate on writing and reading as symbiotic. And I am uber impressed with your reading goals! Wow! Whenever I write I tend to mimic the style of what I am currently reading, or the voice in my head (whether it’s Grover or Nietszche). :-)
    I think that reading more & more not only develops that ability, but allows more voices to select from while writing. Good luck!

    • Thanks! I intend to go back and review the books I’ve previously read eventually, however, for now I’m going to start with what I’ve most recently finished (which in an hour or so will be The History of Money). Thus far, since posting Edible Language, I’ve managed to keep on top of my reading goals for each day and often exceeded them (now I just need to find my footing on my writing goals). I think that borrowing from the styles of other writers we’re exposed to is how writing and really, language, evolve. There’s a quote (within a quote,even), from Ordinary Genius which I’m rather fond of: “Read. Imitate shamelessly. Steal when you can get away with it. T.S. Eliot said, ‘Good poets imitate. Great poets steal.’” While I don’t condone taking phrases and the like without citing them, I do believe in imitating style to strengthen your own. As such, I definitely agree about the voices and often get frustrated when people say “You’ll find your voice as a writer,” because I already have so many, why settle for just one?

I showed you my words, now show me yours

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