Saturday, July 26, 2008

The conundrum of reading and writing

I love writing. When I was 10 my brother David and I decided to have a little competition. We were both going to write a story, and have mom be the judge.

David was done in less than an hour with his. "Okay, lets have mom judge these."

"I'm not done yet," I said.

"Okay, well, hurry it."

Every hour on the hour the rest of the day he came into my room, where I was diligently working at my desk. I had this brilliant idea for a story, and I was going to make it worth moms time to read this.

"Are you done yet?"


Well come on!"

"I'll be finished by tomorrow."

"Tomorrow? What?"

"You can't rush perfection."

"I did."

The next day mom awarded me with the prize for my story.

That was pretty much the end of my fiction writing until I was 35. My brother introduced me to a website he started, where there was a new topic for each new issue. The website was updated every other week.

My brother begged me to write for his site, which was I wrote some story I thought was junk, and everybody on the site loved it. They urged me to write more. So I did. And, lo and behold, all of a sudden I was writing a novel.

Of course there were political discussions on this site too, and it was basically me against the world. But we had fun, until my brother became bogged down in his real job to the point he had to put itwill fail on the back burner.

About a year later I discovered this neat website called critique circle. This was the place that was going to get me writing again. Actually, I think there was a lady who submitted an article to itwillfail who mentioned how critique circle benefited her writing. So, I decided to check it out.

I submitted my stories I had already submitted to itwillfail, and they ripped my stories to pieces. They weren't rood by all means, they just told me I had lots of work to do. I was naive in the beginning to think that my writing was awesome.

I guess, as my friend Lucan wrote on his blog True Heir, after finishing his first novel, "ignorance is bliss."

He quoted a fellow cc'er:

"I yearn for the blissful ignorance I had when I didn't know a lot about writing. Those were the days, when that first draft needed just a spell check and a few added bits of description to be perfection.

Lucan writes:

"Before I took writing serious, I devoured books without giving it much thought. Some I riled through, others were a bit more difficult. I had a general idea what made some books better, or more appealing in my view, and others not, but I didn’t stop to analyze. Now, I find it hard to read a book and simply enjoy it. One part of my brain is always the critiquer, shaking my head over certain infodumps, moaning after the tenth adverb in a chapter. Yes, it helps me to become a better writer. But I think there’s also a danger."

I think this is so true. It was so nice to be ignorant. When I was a kid I had this plan to make my story into a best selling novel. When I was 20, and decided I had yet to embellish my story, I decided I might never accomplish this goal.

CC made me see the light, that I am no Stephen King. But they also encouraged me to keep writing, which was so cool. Still, it was a lot funner when I thought I was Stephen King.

Now, to make a political tie in here, the same can be said about politics. Life was sure a lot easier when I new little about politics. I remember 16 years ago wanting to know more about politics, so I started reading political books. I loved them.

Only problem is, I learned more than just politics. And now I feel like I know too much. I leaned that what I know and believe and value is not the same as what other people know and believe and value.

That, as Ben Franlkin once wrote, as we grow old, we learn that every person has a different perspective on every issue. And, if from time to time we don't get together and come up with a compromise, nothing will ever get solved.

And the more you read the more you know, and the more you know how little you know. And, the more you write the more you learn and the more you realize how little you know. So, basically, we read and write so we can come to the realization that we humans know a lot, but that lot is really only a little.

See. It can be stressful thinking about. Think about this: If you go up, and once you are past the planets and the object out there. You would never stop. You would go up forever. There is no wall out there in space. There is just an infinity of nothing.

That is what knowledge is like. It is like space. It is everything, and at the same time it is nothing. It is huge, yet it is small.

It's complex. Life is complex. And that is exactly why I don't encourage my children to pay attention more to politics. There time will come when they will know too much too. There time will come when they realize that they know very little, and that there is an endless pool of more stuff to learn.

This is what I like to call the conundrum of reading and writing.

This is exactly why I do not push my kids to read things other than the things they choose to read. They will learn about politics in due time.

Until then, I want them to just enjoy the simple life of being a kid.

At the same time, I think that is why I write: writing allows me to make things simpler, to organize ideas. And, after all, that all we have is ideas. Even though we have a lot of scientific knowledge about space, most of what we know is based on theory.

The same is true of politics and most of life. Most of what we know is based on theory. It is an idea. And most of us disagree on just about everything, except for the few times we agree. It's kind of like a marriage between two people, or a friendship, we have to work to find common ground.

Kids are forced to learn that at an early age, either by reading or by simple experience. This is how we develop character I would surmise. (That's my theory)

And as long as I have the talent to write, to communicate, I will do so -- whether it be fiction or nonfiction. It's just what I do.

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