Sunday, May 27, 2012

A reader or a writer, which would you rather be? by Guest Author Diedre Havrelock

When I first started writing, I went to a weekend writing retreat that was held on the prairies up in the Cypress Hills of Alberta. This workshop was led by a Canadian cowboy writer by the name of Guy Vanderhaeghe. He wrote a book called The Englishman’s Boy (which was later turned into a film). One of the first questions he asked us all was, “Tell me now, how many books have you read this year?” (To which I internally responded, One! Don’t judge me!) The thing is, even though I wanted to be a writer, I hadn’t yet even become a reader. Guy told us, his little herd of wanna-be writers, what we desperately needed to hear, that we simply could not become writers without being readers first. (So I bought his book.) Anyway, this was the year I became a reader. I think I read fifty books that year. (Which is pretty good, considering I had only read a handful of short gothic romances up until this point.) After reading Guy’s book, The Englishman’s Boy, I exclaimed: “Holy-moly, this guy is a great writer!” (I mean he is super great…Margaret Atwood kind of great, except he writes cowboy type historical fiction). I was over the moon. How did this rather shy guy write this amazing book? I mean, just listen to his voice and syntax…“The other horses trickled down the slope after them, filling the coulee as water fills the bed of a river. One by one they dropped from sight, tails switching, heads bobbing, ghostly gleaming horses running back into the earth like shining, strengthening water.”

I was convinced. I couldn’t be a writer without being a reader. So I read and read and read. I read all kinds of books—every type of genre. And then the inevitable happened. After all, when you’re a reader eventually you start to think, “I really could write something like this.” And when I hit the genre of memoir I knew this was it…this was the type of book I wanted to write. I wanted to write a memoir using the voice of a kid and the voice of a teenager.

So in regards to who I would rather be—writer or reader, my answer is both. Reading is great…escaping into someone’s life, learning about abstract ideas all while being entertained, seeing yourself in someone’s fictional character, learning how to handle tragedy or how to find courage through someone else’s words. All this comes from reading. But writing is great too…pushing yourself to finish a manuscript, editing until you wanna puke, reworking structure, learning to control voice, dreaming up characters, or crafting a real person into a character. This is writing. And it’s great.

For more information about Diedre Havrelock please visit her website


Jaime Lester said...

I would love to be able to write. Honestly, I would like nothing better. I have tried a few times, and what I can accomplish isn't horrible, but it doesn't take me too long to wind up with a book in my hand, reading again because that is just where my passion is. I don't think I could put down my books for the amount of time and concentration and patience it would take to write. I admire writers so very much, especially writers who love to read as much as I do, for being able to put away one passion for another. Writers, in general, are so incredibly admirable. More so, to me, than actors or any other famous person who puts on a show. There is nothing like a book to pull me out of my world, away from my struggles and pain and heartache, and make me feel light again. So, to me those who write are my favorite people in the world!

J Whitus said...

I also wish I could write. I have this story that lives inside my head (with the voices) that I don't think I could put eloquently into words. Maybe someday.

tiff k said...

This is a great post! Actually I'm the reader and my brother's the writer. He writes so well even though he doesn't really read any other fiction books. He REALLY DOESN'T like reading. I tried. Maybe the only books we shared were Goosebumps and Archie. But maybe he needs to be a reader so that he'll be able to connect with the readers? On the other hand, I read so much but I can't write as well as him. I do love writing though! Just don't know if I can write any stories. Am just so insecure! But hopefully I hope to be published really somewhere. I have written articles but these are just... non-fiction pieces? I'd like to write a story. I've been dreaming every night the past month and I don't know if it's telling me that I should write about some of them.

engelsigh said...

Tiff K does your brother write novels?

I too read a TON but I'm not sure that I could write a novel. Someday I may try. For now I'm just trying to finish school.

Blog design by Imagination Designs all images from the My Midnight Dreams Danced Among the Stars kit by Tangie