The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Make Them Write Write Write

And then I make them read.--Taylor Mali

Which may be the problem with most of today's writers: they are disproportionately write, write, writing to their reading. Possibly this is why Poets and Writers laments that while the number of those who want to write is increasing, the number of those who actually read is going down (for further articles of this ilk go here and here).

I wouldn't think that reading would be something writers wouldn't have time to do. It seems like a no brainer: you want to write so you must love words, you must be engaged in the textual conversations that are ever-present in this (semi)literate society, you must read all the time. Come on, it's like two sides to a coin. You can't write well if you don't read, and read broadly. But apparently, we have a generation(s?) of writers in MFA programs or whatnot whose mantra is "I'll read in the summer when I have time." Hmmmm, three whole months? Wow. And who's to say you'll have time in the summer for reading? Life happens. Further, what are you doing in the off-reading months? Writing? Writing in a vacuum does not produce great works as I can attest from many of the pieces submitted in the fiction writing MFA class I am crashing.

Yet these writers?/kids?/whattheheckdoIcallthem? have no idea. They spend so much time reading each others' shoddy solipsistic works that they have no concept of what real (and good) writing looks like.