are like chefs who don’t eat.
Seven years ago I started what I consider my ‘writing journey’. It wasn’t that I hadn’t put my pen to paper before then, but I hadn’t done so with the intention of letting others read it before. This quintessential moment was me shakily signing up for my first Creative Writing class.
That first day is still vivid in my mind. I remember what I wore. I remember the other students. I can replay the memory in my head like film.
My creative writing teacher was barely taller than myself. He wore dark green slacks hemmed up with silver pins. He was middle aged and well spoken. He was…demure. Yet he instructed his class with a constructive and supportive atmosphere that I could immerse myself in.
His first order of business was to have us all arrange our seats into a circle. His second was to ask us to introduce ourselves and what we were currently reading. There was a little bit of stirring but after a while we went around our little circle doing just that.
It was a really neat bonding experience. Well, it was until that one guy went and screwed it up. The entire time people were introducing themselves he was sitting there in these black jeans and dark red turtleneck with his arms crossed over his very thin chest. He hadn’t really reacted to…well…anything.
When it got to him he introduced himself and stated, quite clearly, “I don’t read.”
I blinked. I wasn’t the only one. A couple of students exchanged looks and there was even a sort of surprised chuckle from a few of us.
The teacher nodded, “Alright, why not?”
“Because I don’t have to.”
The teacher didn’t ask him to elaborate. He nodded and accepted it and moved on. But the moment really stuck with me. How utterly confident must a writer be to assume he doesn’t have to read and where can I feel even a fraction of that?
But here’s my issue. I don’t care how good a person is at their craft. If they aren’t looking at the works of others then they suffer from the creative equivalent of sniffing their own farts. They are never going to grow, change, or be inspired.
It’s because of this mentality that I feel my book reviews are a pretty big part of my writing blog. Because it’s not just about the words I put on the page, it’s about the words that I am reading. It’s about what is inspiring me.
So, to all my writers out there, pick up a damn book.