At the Squad 365 blog (squad365.blogspot.com), the members are discussing literary jealousy. I’ve certainly had my moments of literary jealousy—and I’m sure to have more in the future. It seems rather human to feel that way. But, in my mind, its so important to quell those thoughts before they take hold. Momentary jealousy is human; obsessive jealousy is destructive. Whenever I’ve had a jealous moment, I’m usually thinking about my own weaknesses as a writer, as an individual.
One of those big weaknesses is that I’m a slow reader. I don’t devour books. I’ve never read into the wee hours of the morning. I rarely lose myself in a story. I’m always very conscious that I’m reading when I’m reading. I nibble at sentences and drift into a daydream and then drift back to the page. My thoughts are always mingling with the thoughts of the characters, of the writer. I wish—oh, I wish—I could read faster. I really want jump into a book on a Sunday afternoon and emerge three hours later with half the book completed. Whenever hear about friends and family who zoom through books, I do have serious pangs of jealousy. It’s a weakness which bleeds over into my writing life for obvious reasons. In the past, I’ve said to myself: If only I could read faster, I could read more and that would make me a better writer. I just know it.
Recently—and this may in part come from working with students that have learning differences such as ADD and ADHD—but I’ve started to let go of this concern. I’m beginning to realize that, although reading slowly is a limitation, it does have some positive side effects. One of which is that I pay very close attention to how language works. I really do see the sentences as they go by. I appreciate the beauty of details—which explains why I love lush writers such as Woolf and Murdoch. I think this helps my writing, because I’m able to discern the language and mechanics of a novel, it’s parts, even if I’m always moving in and out of the dream of the whole.
Of course, I still wish I could devour books and believe me I’m still jealous of those who can lose themselves in a book—but as a writer who one day wants to have a book to share and to sell, I’m so glad those individuals exist.