The Stages of Being a Writer Reader

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I read a book recently.

Whilst reading, I noticed I was mentally composing questions or reprimands to the author.

Did you really just do that? Why’d you make her go there?

This is a change from the reading mind of my childhood; the time when I completely absorbed into a story, lived in the world, and watched the characters walking about. I’d surface from the last page, blinking at supposed reality, but not really entering it till all memories of Narnia or Yorkshire or The Enchanted Forest dissipated.

And then I’d pick up the sequel.

Looking at both ends of my experience, I’ve realized a path, a journey, a progression in my reading.

At first, in the child years of absorption, I was a toddler at Disneyland. Everything was beautiful, exciting, without flaw, and controlled by adults who handled all the details so all I had to do was have fun.

After that, the pleasure of the thing was ruined by high school English teachers. They insisted on an analysis of why every ride was fun, what the motives of the costumed characters really were, and what else Walt Disney meant by his questionable “It’s a Small World After All.”

In college, I moved on to read about the underprivileged workers at Disneyland. Who was the real ‘power’ behind what powered the rides, how could we feel exactly as he felt, and why must we be part of the hedonistic problem?

Between then and now, of course, is Mom Brain. With limited cranial capacity, I’ve had to read non-fiction to plan the amusement park trip so that every else could have fun. I got to ride a few fun books, but always followed up with the self-help variety once guilt kicked in.

And today we’re also here: a year after dedicating myself more fully to the idea that I can write, that I can create something like Disneyland.

Eventually.

Right?

So I’m mentally yelling at other authors about their design. Typical.

I wonder when I’ll get to the point of recognizing constructions or anticipating smart-sounding elements like ‘rising action.’ Will I ever be invited to Club 33?

I probably need to read some more. Has anyone else noticed a change in how s/he reads? Do you still enjoy reading?

26 thoughts on “The Stages of Being a Writer Reader

  1. I think I’m an anomaly that I don’t really do that, though I will object to things that don’t make sense, and errors. One very popular writer has a tendency to use the wrong word for things. That the author doesn’t know it is the wrong word is one thing, but that the editor doesn’t correct it is another. I tend to literally hand-correct my books so that such things don’t hinder my reading.

    But your point is well taken. I have a friend who writes for film/tv and it’s difficult to watch those with her since she’ll pick them apart and analyze them. I just want to enjoy or not enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 😀 I can totally picture fixing a book. Too many glaring errors like that completely pulls me out of a good story.
      My husband says learning more about how something works makes him appreciate it more, but I think I’m more like your friend. Perhaps that’s BECOME her way of enjoying.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is spot on, Chelsea. My last job was as a librarian in what in New Zealand we call an “Area School:” It’s a rural school that goes from age 3 to 18! I wasn’t called a librarian but the “manager of the information landscape.” We went to calling it “information” from calling it “knowledge” from calling it “love of wisdom”. Our contemporary world seems to revel in destroying all sense of wonder!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do this with art. Since I started taking courses in 2006, I’ve become more of a critic than an art lover.
    My reading interests developed late, I didn’t read much before leaving school. Actually it was around the time of my last English exam when I picked up a set book and read it from page 1 and realised that’s how it works. Like yours, ours was picking over a selected passage or chapter for literary analysis, the overall story was of no importance. School, eh?
    You reach a crossroads where you either become a critic or a creator; knowledge does that, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I completely do this.

    When reading I silently question the motives of the author/ characters, rewrite clumsy sentence structures and question what information I as the reader am given and why I wasn’t given different information.
    Strangely, it doesn’t affect my ability to enjoy the story.

    I see it more like a chef eating someone else’s cooking, noticing slightly different ingredients and methods of cooking but finding the food tasty nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so happy that I am not alone in this!!! Unless a writer is really good at his craft I can’t even get through a novel. Imagine being a writing teacher and actually paying for a novel on Amazon and then downloading it only to discover the author didn’t bother to edit the damn book. Or self edited it and consistently misspelled the same words or made the same grammatical errors throughout. I want to tear my hair out when I see that! Also, writers always know what is a red herring in a mystery and I almost always solve every mystery ever written before I am halfway through the story. However, if the characters are charming enough, I can at least get to the end and feel I had a pleasurable experience. I stopped reading some famous authors because their books are written on a 5th grade reading level. When I read, I want to escape into a world that takes me places where I am not so bored that I start correcting the mistakes of the author. So yeah, the teacher and writer in me does that all the time…. I get stuck in “Why did they use THAT word? Seriously??? How many times did she use the same dialogue tag??? ARGH! When I start to feel like I am correcting students I have to stop reading the book. It becomes a chore.

    I probably shouldn’t be so critical but I am. Not on blogs… well sometimes, but not usually, since I rarely edit my own blogs. I write casually on my blog. It is strictly for enjoyment, to express emotions and relieve stress, and because it is a blog and not something I am getting paid for, I usually just click publish and don’t bother to edit it. (I know that is terrible.) BUT if I asked for money I sure as hell would edit everything to a T.
    So yes, I am very critical. I get annoyed when things that are published aren’t professionally edited. These days everybody thinks they can write. On wordpress I have found some very talented writers who express themselves beautifully. But also, Ive seen some really illiterate people who think they are the cat’s meow. And because they use wordpress like a social media site to get a million friends or likes, they think they have talent. And they don’t. I used to look at some writers on wordpress and make suggestions like a teacher would when I noticed creative young, beginning writers. I figured I would help them out. But a couple were insulted by my suggestions and I realized that because other people their own age were sucking up to them they got snippy about my comments. (Which weren’t mean, just something like…” I really enjoyed this, but consider adding this… to entice the reader even more..”
    So… I stopped doing that. Apparently really young writers think they enter the world of writing with the knowledge of the entire universe before they turn 21.
    I’m a teacher, a writer and so much more. And if folks put their ideas out there on a social media site, I assumed they should be open to my thoughts on their piece. Apparently some people don’t feel that way.

    Does being a parent change how you write or perceive writing? Hmmm… I think our stage in life certainly affects our writing and our opinions. Look at every author’s life. They mature and think differently as they age. That’s what time does to us. Hopefully it brings us wisdom in the process.

    I enjoy reading your blogs. That you are a writer is very apparent in everything you post. And it is incredibly refreshing every time I read something you have posted. You are extremely talented. And because you think like a writer, you will edit other’s works. That is pretty normal. it means you know your craft.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your comments always make me feel so much better! 🙂

      I also feel inadequate responding, as I cannot address everything you bring up as thoroughly as I’d like to.

      I agree with all of your points! -though, I’m a bit wary of varying dialogue tags since reading that one ought not to use more than ‘said’ so often. 😀 Granted, most writing advice gets me too scared to type a full paragraph…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Glad I made you feel better. You should feel good about yourself. You are amazingly talented.
        And just so you know, I had my students keep a writing notebook. One page was filled with dialog tags. They could refer to it every time they wrote a story. For your first draft just write what comes out of your head. ( Most likely it will be said). Then reread and switch a few tags to a better word. I would do a cute activity every October when Halloween came around. It was called… “SAID IS DEAD.” And we killed off said. So we had to write stories in October using other dialogue tags like replied, retired, sputtered, grumbled, chuckled, sniffed, etc. etc. etc. And then for fun we did funny epitaphs…
        “Here lies poor old Fred
        He used bad grammar
        And now he’s dead.”

        Anyhow, by November the children knew that if they used said more than once or twice in a story they weren’t being as resourceful as they could be. It worked. I have former students in college and in the work place who write and tell me that they still use their 4th grade writing notebook every day. Kind of nice to know that it helped.
        Chelsea, just write. These days the only thing I edit is my novel I am working on. And sadly I edit that to death… my biggest problem….
        Here lies Lesley’s book opon the floor, edited to death and heard of never more…

        hahahaha

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m more snarky than once I was but if the story works, isn’t full of typos and grammar that would make a sloth vomit (have you seen a sloth vomit – it’s poetry in bile, slow-bile, not very mo-bile) and has a plot that’s less holey than a right reverend then I’ll chug through it and not be too critical. I didn’t really start reading until i was a teen so I sort of skipped the whole childhood wonder shtick. Maybe I should go back there and have a couple of uncritical Narniaised reads and see how that works. Oh and your book. Write it.

    Liked by 1 person

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