Wreading

GreatWreading
Berthe Morisot - Reading [La Lecture] (1888)
"Nobody needs to care where my writing comes from except for me."

Writers Wread much more than they write. We do not merely read, but Wread, which is the specialized kind of reading in which writers engage. We Wread compulsively, like we might breathe if on the edge of suffocation, a necessity much more than a choice. UnWread books sit like spare oxygen tanks on my side table. My piles of New Yorkers, emergency secret stashes should my books fail me. I won't read just anything, at least not to conclusion. I'm likely to try anything. I hold high but unexplainable standards for what constitutes Wreadable, and quickly discard anything striking me as incoherent. I'm particular because, like many writers, my writing seems to echo whatever I'm Wreading, echoes not being true reproductions, but similar resonances. I do not aspire to write like anyone else. Should I start Wreading something that does not sing to me, I dare not absorb its discordance, lest it leak back out in my writing and into my reader's ear.

I Wread for joy, to immerse myself in a writer's voice, to revel in clear and clever usage.
I rarely Wread for content. I rarely look for facts. I always seek style. I suppose that I want to be transported, particularly during This Damned Pandemic, where horizons have shriveled. I spent most of yesterday in and around a small town in Southern New Mexico, complements of novelist Steven F. Havill, a writer of whose work I'd been unaware until seeing a recent review. I've since been Wreading through his entire catalogue, in order of publication, a couple of dozen, so that I might experience his writing's evolution, though even his earliest work exhibited pretty much perfect pitch. It's all been a wonder to witness, and a joy. He seems to choose perfect words and always affect proper tone. I've been Wreading his stuff by listening to it, closing my eyes and letting it just float me away. Yesterday, The Muse happened upon me laying on the bed, headset in place and a huge grin on my face, enraptured, I guess.

I have become pickier as I age, for time seems shorter now than it once did. I quickly discard anything unworthy. Tana French's latest lasted barely twenty pages, and I left disappointed because she had always had one of those nearly perfect voices. She lost it for me with that one. John Grisham writes books that I seem to absorb through my skin without any experiencing of Wreading them in. Though I've tried to understand what he's doing, I've so far always just eventually surrendered to the mystery, delighted, no analysis required. My Wreading doesn't seem to care very much about the story. Plot lines seem pretty much lost to me. I do read some of what I refer to as palate cleansers, books with no apparent social value, but quirky. Christopher Moore surprised me with his Sacre Bleu, a masterwork appended to a catalogue otherwise comprised of altogether too much cleverness. Masters surprise.

I find Wreading my own work challenging. I rarely receive anything approaching a clean Wread from myself. Having written it, I've probably hobbled myself as its Wreader, though I often find joy Wreading something I'd forgotten I'd written, an increasingly common situation. Not all of my writing was meant to be Wread. Some, I just write for reading. Wreading seems more refuge than escape. It constitutes the bulk of my work. The library serves as my sanctuary where I seek solace and inspiration. I scan the stacks for old reliables, authors whose work inspired me before, stuff that recharges my well. I feel deeply uncertain if I should even be confessing to this Wreading obsession. It seems somehow almost too personal for me to be disclosing. Nobody needs to care where my writing comes from except for me. Mine comes from Wreading, which just seems necessary.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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