I am. I can’t read at all.
Well OK, what I mean is, I can’t read like a writer. I can’t read to criticise (in the analysis form of the word not the slagging off form of the word). Rather, I’ve never been able to read to criticise easily and I’ve never really chosen to do that either.
Thinking back to school again. It was GCSE English that was the first and last time I read a novel and dissected it. It was George Orwell’s Animal Farm – rather apt for it is some sort of anniversary for Eric Arthur Blair this year but I haven’t quite worked out what anniversary it is yet. I enjoyed scribbling all over my copy bought solely for the purpose. It was colour coded and very neatly done. I may even have sketched a pig or two.
That was the first and only book I’ve ever written on. It was installed in me from a very young age that books are sacred and should never be defaced. Of course as an adult I know that’s just ridiculous. No one is going to arrest me for writing a comment or question on a book that I have bought with my own money. I still can’t do it though. I can’t write on books. That’s the be all and end of it.
This is where e-books are going to help me massively. When reading an e-book, you can highlight and comment until your heart is content and not ever be seen to have been defacing the thing at all. Fantastic. I hope to do this one day using my Nexus 7. That is when I start using my Android tablet to read books and not just play Hangman or watch endless TV series on Netflix. That is also when I get used to the idea of reading an e-book. But that’s another blog post entirely.
Why would anyone (meaning me) want to read to criticise anyway? Well, if I’m going to take this writing hobby of mine a little more seriously and justify signing up for that University of Oxford creative writing course, I’m going to want to improve and, if I’m going to improve, I’m going to have to change the way I read books so that I can learn from them. I’m going to have to criticise novels and short stories and articles and scripts and anything else that is written down in actual words and stuff. It’s not going to be easy for me but, hey, start small and work up. Double hey, blog about it, so others can join in with your obvious unease.
I just need to decide what I’m going to dissect first. Any thoughts or comments?
Oh, yes, almost forgot. What brought about this blog post in the first place? It was this post (How To Read like A Writer) by the excellent and hugely inspiring Chuck Wendig. I’m mentioned him before. He’s the guy who does an awesome weekly writing challenge on his blog and sometimes hits resonance.