When does a reader become a writer? For those who really read a lot, who describe themselves as ‘readers’ (you know who you are) as opposed to someone who happens to read, there seems a curious inevitability to the change, gradual or otherwise, from reader to writer. After all, it’s a rare writer who isn’t (or at least wasn’t) already an avid reader. I should point out here that by ‘writer’ I don’t necessarily mean published author, but rather someone who chooses to contribute somehow and somewhere with the written word, be that in the form of fiction, non-fiction, books, blogs or anything else.
I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember, though I’m not sure I would consider myself a writer, not really. I’ve never written a book, or even tried to, and it’s only this year that I’ve picked up my metaphorical pen and started to blog regularly. Prior to that I’d written the occasional rambling blog post, and written plenty of reports in my work life, but it had been well over ten years since I had written anything creatively. The thing is though, I think I’ve probably written something in the range of about 30,000 words on the blog since I started it in January, plus a couple of thousand more on my non-book related blog. Sure, that’s nothing compared to what a professional writer would get through in a year, but for someone starting off on the path of not just reading but also contributing my own words in return, that’s not too bad. I fully intend to keep up my current rate of writing as well, so by the end of the year that 30k should have grown easily to 40k or even 50k.
So maybe I am a writer. Of sorts. Certainly since starting this blog and getting back into the habit of not just reading books but actually thinking about them, and putting those thoughts down in the shape of reviews, I feel as though I’ve been bitten by the writing bug. It’s happened without me thinking much about it; to start off with I decided to start writing and publishing book reviews as a way of creating some discipline and structure in the strangeness that has been my life this year, inspired by receiving a copy of The Book Lover’s Journal as a gift from a friend. It turned out that I found it considerably harder than I had expected, but at the same time considerably more rewarding and enjoyable. I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing when I’m writing these reviews, or whether they’re any good, but every little bit of feedback I get, be it good or bad, encourages me to keep going and keep practising. In the last few days I’ve even started, whisper it, writing stories. Ok, so they’re not going to be very good, at least to start with. Who knows though, maybe I’ll get better. It’s all part of the strange cycle of reading and writing that I’m only now starting to think about and even begin to understand. It’s exciting though, and whatever happens I’m determined to enjoy it.
Are you a reader, or a writer? Or both?