Readin' to Write

"Read even bad fiction" advised one of them college professors.
He said it makes ya work all the harder to write better.

I'se noticin' how many folks on the blogblock is somehow interst'd in writin'...Bawgs has a new scribe gig and shur enjoyed Bawgs' plagerism post and the comments over theah'bout it. And Bird has standards for teachin' writing and thinkin....Contessa Infinitessima (love name!!) is wrapped now in her own writin', Hail-Pig has his own Pigazette!Ardlair wants software snoops to keep writers and test takers honest.

Guess it is natural, ain't it--after all, bloggin' is writin', right?

But to write with sompin' to say that other folks can lap up, latch onto or chew on or even taste and spit out takes some far rangin' readin'so as to have a perspective longer than the end of our noses. Yer could say wide range readin' makes good writers. As Bawgs notes, "clarity amid the muck"(which always reminds me of "Love in the Ruins".)

One thang wide readin' does is give ya a nose fer derivatives, cant, rant written as rave for the contrary, and a new respect for original sources read without filter of various interpretations. It's jes' wonnerful when ya finds true wonder and discovery.

I gits a panic when I visit the liberry--all them books and not enough years left to read em!!

But that same professor done said sompin' real curious: read stuff that is too hard to grasp at first--stretch yourself, read subjects that are unfamiliar. I done a bit o' that, but not enough. Need more science. More Russian lit. Did read a thin Turgenev, Diary of a Superfluous Man--(oh dear)

Mostly I am scatterbrained bout it --I been readin' all over the map in the last year. I ain't got no plan, and mah list is not a recommendation for ya'll jes' a looky at the books stacked on tables, under the bed, in the flowered (Yick--old lady stuff!) three totin' bags I'se draggin heah and theah, plus piled on the floor in my matchbook study. Yep, and even stacked in the bathroom, I'ma reader in the bathtub.

(ain't sayin' I read them all, but I'se read IN them all, fer sure--did read most of most of em')

On the bottom of a chair no one uses at the table: some catlogs for travel gear, gardenin' goodies and three book catlogs (Bas Bleu, Regnery and Ignatius Press), plus Niall Fergurson's Cash Nexus. And, Frog and Toad all Year, The Grumpy Bunny and a coloring book. On the table at one end is Sibley's bird bible.

In first tote bag (green hopsack), Flannery O'Connor's Habit of Being, Mystery and Manners, MFK Fisher's Art of Eating (Read it till its ragged), Muriel Spark's Memento Mori (hysterical!) and Cormac McCarthy's Cities of the Plain (not for fainthearted)

Tote Bag number two (blue and rose colored tapestry bag) Agustine's City of God, Neil Postmans's Technopoly, Alan Tate(ed.) I'll Take My Stand, Walid Phares' Future Jihad, and Reading Lolita in Tehran. Hooper's The New Spaniards, Faulk's Birdsong.

Tote number three (Brown and olive tapestry) Dorothy Sayers' Nine Tailors, Alan Furst's Polish Soldier, PJ O'Rourke's Peace Kills (very funny!), Ellis Peters' Holy Thief, Ruth Reichel's Tender at the Bone (you'll love it).

On floor by by bedroom chair: Road to Santiago, Don Quiote, Idlylls and Rambles, The Field of the Star and Lost in the Cosmos (Walker Percy). Holdin' all this up is The Lovliest Towns in Portugal.

On the chair: Crocker's Triumph, Burtchell's Dying of the Light, Karl Stern's Flight From Woman, Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, Lapsing into a Comma(yep--two M's), The Unseriousness of Human Affairs, A War like No Other War,and Collapse. (OK, ok...Plato's Republic, but I keep tryin', but never finish it...did finish Burke on French tantrum of 1789...and I really did read Tacitus)

By the bathtub, catalog from Willimas Sonoma,French Kitchen Gardens, 100 most common mistakes in English. Leerin' at me from the top of the file cabinet, an implementation manual for the Convention on ...nevermind.

Books given away to read are too nummerous to cunt but two good ones: The Last Duel (midieval judicial duel) and Embers--gorgeous prose from Sandor Marai whose psychological dipiction of men as friends/enemies is the best in 20th cent.

This ain't even scratchin' the other bedrooms (one filled with juvenalia) or my study or any bookshelves or the back seat o' mah car--and Uncle Aloyisus done hollered at me:

"Doan buy one more book"

What could that man be thinkin'??

So I said,
"OK puddin...doan buy one more shot gun shell"

He's buying shells as fast as I stack up them books.


Bird said...

read something that's hard to read...

my remedial students find almost everything hard to read...sigh....but some of them tackle the most amazing things -

one student, in a basic skills reading course, who reads at about the 6th grade reading level, selected Orwell's 1984 for his independent reading assignment. Took him forever to plow through it and he went to tutor after tutor and made several appointments with me for help (and to discuss the "strange thoughts" the book made him think), but he did it and came out the better for it. he wants to write a paper on the novel - though it's not required to do so.

but more about "difficult" reads -

common assignment in a college, remedial reading course these days is a little thing called a diffculty paper (check out Maria Salvotori - she's a teacher/scholar/researcher/educational theorist - the difficulty paper is her idea) - in such a paper, readers identify what is making a text difficult for them to read. sometimes its the writing style, sometimes it's the content - ideas that students have absolutely no prior knowledge for - which makes it difficult then to grasp - and sometimes it's because the text's own idealogy is in conflict with the reader's idealogy. things get really juciy then.

sometimes students want to abandon a read which challenges their world view (i've heard tales of students who flat out refuse to read assigned reading because it contradicts their religious beliefs - good opportunity for a difficulty paper)

the difficulty paper, and the difficulty read are fabulous ways to open up your head and see new stuff. doesn't mean you walk away agreeing with the text (though you might), but youdo walk away with a more thorough background on a topic, and a better idea of why you think the way you think.

Aunty Belle said...

Excellent process-shur must be fun to see them discover new angles of view--yer shur cain't know what'cha think until you've explore a bit.

But...it is sad that we need remedial reading in college, ain't it?
Well, I suppose then engineers is math whizzes but may need readin help...

But curious--what'cha read that made ya wanna write yoreself?

velvet acid tongue said...

ahhh books ... one can never have too many books. i love books ... the really really good ones make me wanna write ... i do think its sad we need remedial reading in college ... i just can't imagine life without all my books ...

Bird said...


yes, it is sad we need remedial reading and writing in college - but better to have the remedial than to turn those folks away.

another point though - we learn to read - most of us, during K-4th grade and from then on, we read to learn. yet as we grow, as our intellect develops and as the reading tasks change and become more complicated, we realy could benefit from additional instruction - reading demands change yet we rarely revisit reading skills and strategies. and college reading has very different demands.

even when i'm teaching a first-year writing course, i integrate reading skills into the course - have to.

it's amazing sometimes, how surprised incoming high school studnets are when they hit their first year of college and are confounded by the volume of reading and the different kinds of reading they must engage in.

the past year, most of my writing has been on my thesis - so your question is somewhat hard to answer in "real time." of course, i had a lot of research and reading for my thesis - probably no titles you would recognize.

current books on the nightstand and scatterd about:

The Best American Erotica, 2006
Love Works (poems) - Janice Mitikitani (social activist who works at San Francisco's famous Glide Memorial CHurch)
The Preservations, Dabvid Maime- retelling in novel form of the story of Noah and his family , shortly before, during and after the flood,
The Essential Rumi
The Collected Works of Emily Dickensen
Amusing OUrselves to Death and The End of Education - Postman

piles of scholarly journals

old copies of the Nation and the National Review, and the Rolling Stone

miscellaneous novels by Italo Calvino

i used to reread the Illiad and the Oddyessey (sp on both) every other year in the fall and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy on the off years.

i've just started Masuda Sultan's My War at Home and i suspect i will end up writing some sort of essay built on the themes in that book. Sultan was born in Afghanistan, but immigrated to the US with her family when she was 5. She was married at 16 (arranged by her family), but later divorced and earned an MA from the JFK School of Government at Harvard. She traveled to her parents' village in afghanistan after we bombed afghanistan - she lost 19 family members in that bombing - they were just villagers, civilians - not taliban, not terrorists and had nothing to do with Al Queda or 9/11.

oh that's quite enough - we'll be wondering into religion and politics and let's not do that here on the front porch....

now i am tired and feel like rereading the wind in the willows to lull myself to sleep.

Infinitesimal said...


go to K9's doghouse RIGHT NOW!!!!

It is AWESOME!!!!!!

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