the circular runner

Writing in a Confusing World

In Uncategorized, writers & books on June 26, 2010 at 9:11 am

I just was reading Nathan Bransford’s blog. http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/06/you-tell-me-do-you-spend-more-time.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NathanBransford+(Nathan+Bransford+-+Literary+Agent)&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher He wanted to know if the writers who visit his blog read more or write more. Before responding, I looked to see what everyone else wrote, and I was troubled. Almost everyone I read said they wrote more than they read. I said the same (though if you count my having to grade papers, that may not be true). As far as fiction (especially novels), it certainly is.

Realizing this, I started wondering if I was trying to become a member of the wrong tribe? By which I mean, if I am not reading fiction whenever possible, why do I think I should add more fiction to the world? I have a stack of things to read right next to my bed, but the reality is that after my responsibilities (professional and personal) I usually steal a few minutes away to read in the morning or late at night. These few minutes here and there do not make up the extended quiet time one needs to get to know longer, deeper work–either a novel or a longer work of non-fiction. This week, it took me five days to work through one of Lionel Trilling’s essays (about thirty pages). The essay was from some lectures he gave in 1969 that he published under the title, Sincerity and Authenticity and the theme of the book, from what I can tell, is the ancient question: what does it mean to live a good life? Trilling puts it slightly differently for the modern reader. He wants to know what it means to live authentically, but I think that’s just a new way of asking the ancient question that philosophers have been working on forever.

So now I am asking myself the question in terms relevant to me: what does it mean to be an authentic writer? There’s no answer, I know. I make it up as I go, as do the other writers on Mr. Bransford’s blog, but here’s the thing: if we just keep producing written words and we writers (supposed lovers of language) don’t make the time to read, then what’s the point?

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