Which Came First: The Book or The Reader?

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out what happened to my inclination to write. I feel like a part of me has checked out and taken my inspiration with it. Wherever it went, I hope it’s having fun. I’m expecting a postcard any day.

Then I started thinking about my reading habits over the past few weeks, and it hit me. Like a ton of bricks.

I’ve always believed that there is a direct correlation between what I read and what I write; one is all but completely dependent on the other. I am not alone in this belief. In his book On Writing, Stephen King suggests, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” I wholeheartedly concur.

Without even thinking about it, I glean ideas from what I read. Books, articles, the backs of cereal boxes all prompt me to ask questions. I don’t mean to suggest that I get personally introspective because of what I read on the back of my box of Special K. But I think that when I read more, I am more perceptive. The world becomes clearer and more ambiguous at the same time. I find myself questioning more frequently that which is presented to me as fact. I get curious.

With that said, school is officially finished, and I have all the time in the world to read what I want. So here’s to a summer full of good wine, good books, and good writing! I hope.

somethin too consider

we right different from what we talk this much i no to bee true, i’ve even saw it with my own to eyes. in this age of text messaging instant messaging and emailing we always are in such a hurry that it becomes two timely to apply the rules are grade school teachers tried so fervently to instill in us. butt what does that suggest of us what is it about our lives that make them so complicating that we ca’nt construct our writin proper?

HAPPY NATIONAL GRAMMAR DAY!

In the spirit of what has quickly become my favorite (technically) unofficial holiday, I’ve decided to remind myself of why I do what I do. I take consolation in the difficulty of composing that first paragraph. It took nearly thirty minutes, and it was a profoundly difficult undertaking. The final question, however, is perfectly legit and concerning. Why can we no longer be bothered with proper writing? What happened to the formally composed letter? What happened to the ability to write a draft then a second draft and finally a third? I don’t want to get carried away and blame the total dissolution of concern for the mechanics of language on the word processor, but there is something disconcerting about a word processing program that thinks it’s smarter than I am.

I find it disheartening that so many people seem to lack the fundamentals of English grammar. Are schools not teaching it anymore? Why have we forgotten why it’s important to actually write the word you instead of typing the letter u? And why have we started using commas as breath marks, as opposed to their intended purposes?

We used to tell children to mind their ps and qs. We always make sure we dot every i and cross every t. Is it too much to ask that we put the comma in front of the coordinating conjunction? Has the task of properly placing a preposition become so arduous we can’t even bother ourselves to do it anymore?

This post is full of questions to which I will probably never have answers. Maybe I’m one of the few remaining grammarians who think these things are important. Maybe grammar is a dying art. Or maybe not. (Yes, that would be me making full and glorious use of the sentence-fragment-for-emphasis rule.)

For my part I am trying to rid the world of its lack of concern for all things grammatical one student at a time. I firmly believe that being able to express your opinions and thoughts articulately on a page is a valuable skill in every arena of life. And as long as there are those of us who still believe in the importance of communicating in complete sentences, grammar will continue to wield power over the written word.

Behind Screen Number One Is…Another Screen

My world is made of screens. At least that’s what it feels like most of the time. As I struggle to find the words to write what I want to write, I stare blankly at the computer screen. That is until I conjure the right words; then I’m actively staring at the screen.

When I’m not staring at the computer screen, I am staring at the screen on my Nook, hoping to glean some inspiration (or technique or something) from the electronic pages written by people more successful than I.

Every now and then I take a break from reading to check my phone. Another screen. The constant scrolling on mobile social networking sites is enough to give me motion sickness. And when that happens…

I turn on the television to alleviate the stress on my eyes.

I’ve tried reading real books, something that still comes more naturally than picking up the Nook. But the necessity of wearing reading glasses compels me to put the book down again. Every now and then I try to remember a time when my life was less reliant on screen technology, but the reminiscence simply doesn’t come. I can’t help wondering if I am the only one who is bothered at this revelation.

I’m disconcerted by the thought that everywhere I turn there’s something to stare at, not something or someone to engage with. I want to be actively involved with my occupation; I don’t want to be a passive bystander anymore. I want to be a necessary component of how I spend my mornings and evenings.

I’m not sure what the solution to this problem is, if indeed it is a problem. It may be that screens are a necessary part of this increasingly technological world in which I have insinuated myself. If that’s the case, then I will simply have to accept reality for what it is and figure out a way to embrace it. Whatever the case I think for now my eyes need a bit of a break from this computer. Perhaps I’ll try reading for a bit…