Reading You, Writing You

Why do you read? Why do you write? What inspires you to to read? What motivates you to write? Do you lose yourself or find yourself in words?

What are you looking for when you read or write?

Once again I’m going to share some posts which sparked a glow within when I read them this week, and the thoughts they inspired in me.

First up is:

Cage Dunn: And What Then?

I don’t know whether this has to do with my having dyslexia, or whether it has to do with how I learned to read, or something else, but my mind likes to play with words, including names.

When I see the name “Cage Dunn”, I see “Caged One” instead. And while reading his post wherein he answers questions from a friend about why he writes, the thought which sprung to mind was – he writes to release his caged one.

I love what he wrote about writing, and I also love the comment someone made on his post – “You need to write yourself a better friend, Cage. Just saying.” – that… zap zap… THAT!!!

That comment made splediferous sparkles go off in my head.

That’s it, that’s why I read and write! I’m looking for a friend.

Sort of.

It’s a bit more complex than that. I have to keep reminding myself that what and who I’m seeking isn’t out there, but in here. In me. But sometimes to find what’s inside you need to start the search outside, go on a long journey, until the road winds back around to yourself – and ta-dah! there you are waiting for you to come home.

The next post is:

JP The Wide-Eyed Wanderer: Confessions of a serial Tsundokuist

In her post JP tells a wonderful story of her relationship with books, including how she collects them and lets them pile up.

I used to do that too. My fantasies of the ideal home included wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling books, books as furniture, books everywhere. What I really wanted to do was live in a library.

But constantly moving around, never settling down, traveling in pre-kindle days with too many books in my bags and paying the weight price for it, forced me to change my relationship with books.

Especially as I collected a lot of books which I didn’t read. I wanted to read them, or at least the intellectual snob in me wanted to read them, but whenever I tried I found them to be boring AF.

That was back in the day when I had lost the plot about why I was reading, and I was just compulsively trying to cram knowledge into my mind… perhaps to stop myself from thinking about all those things I didn’t want to think about.

Writing has made me confront those things I didn’t want to think about, and has made them almost a pleasure to think about even when they’re painful.

Nowadays I only own a few books. Those books are my friends. They each hold the key to a reading journey door which I went through, and through which I returned home to myself.

JP asks two questions at the end of her post:

Do you believe that reading is one of the most important things a writer can do?

No. What’s that saying… and who said it…

[takes a break to look it up, gets lost reading… quotes on goodreads… oh, that’s a good one, that’s better, no that’s the one but what about… do I have to choose one… oh wow, I’d never thought of things that way… hmmm… he just said one brilliant thing after another… huh, why is that long reading list which will put a reader off reading forever in the search results and who’s the boring man who put it together to impress people with how big he is and make them feel small if they don’t read everything on the list… and he wrote a book telling people how to read… sigh… his quotes are really heavy no wonder he had to write, it must have weighed a tonne to carry those thoughts in his head… what was I looking for again?]

Sometimes when I read the writings of others, I get the impression that the writer doesn’t read their own writing.

It’s like a person who talks without listening to what they are saying.

They’re not really involved in what they’re doing, they’re playing it safe, not taking risks, so their words lack energy, the energy to draw you in and hold your attention, to take you on a trip.

Words die on their lips and fingertips. They turn gold into lead. They turn talking into a boring monologue, a lecture without life in it. They turn writing into a laborious task, and reading their writing is a chore.

They expect others to be interested in what they are saying, but they don’t seem interested in it, so it is hard to find it interesting.

Why would you be interested in what they have to say if they’re not interested in it?

And if they’re not interested in their own words, they probably won’t be interested in anyone else’s words other than perhaps to use it in ways which may make you regret sharing your words with them.

What’s in your reading stack?

I don’t play that game with books anymore. I don’t like to have books looking at me the way books look at me when I keep them waiting, hoping, on tenterhooks, that maybe one day I’ll read them… when we both know that I probably won’t unless I really have to for some onerous duty, and that’s the worst way to read a book.

I let the books and the writing which I need to read come to me and invite me to discover the journey within the words.

“Leap and the net will appear.”

― John Burroughs

Some of the writing I’ve been reading recently is the subtitles of foreign films and TV shows.

It’s quite a fascinating read because… is that really what they are saying, is that really what they meant?

If I happen to know the language… sometimes it isn’t what was said at all, but there isn’t an English equivalent for it. So the words in the script given to the character are evolved by the person whose job it is to translate them for subtitles.

And the person reading the subtitles evolves the words further, for you have to read quickly while also watching the story you are reading being acted out, and reading the body language of the actors to understand the feeling which the scene is meant to evoke.

In many ways we discover our way by exploring the ways of others and observing our reactions to what we read into them, their lives, their stories in writing.

Which brings me to:

Astrology: Questions and Answers: Fate, Uranus and the astrologer’s degree

Wherein Anne Whitaker shares her personal journey from being skeptical of astrology to becoming an astrologer, as well as a tale of writing a post when the writing muse is playing hide and seek.

Anne does something I love – she’s an astrologer who shares her natal chart, and her personal experiences with astrology.

Anne asked people to share their own stories of how they got into the subject of astrology. With an eye on Uranus, Urania and the astrologer’s degree – 24 degrees 27 minutes Gemini were in their charts.

I got into astrology because of a book and how someone else read what was written in it, using it to prove that their Sun sign was better than mine.

So I bought the book – Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs – and soon forgot why I was reading it because it was brilliantly written. The writer loved their subject, and passed the love for the subject on through the vibrancy of the energy they poured into it.

I own a copy of that book. It is still one of the best writings on astrology I’ve ever read – the words still have life in them, come alive on the page, and invite you to dance with them.

That’s how my journey into astrology began. I took quite a few long pauses along the way, especially after reading books which were written by astrologers who made the subject tedious, laborious, and uninteresting.

I was going to share my story (plus my astro) in a comment on Anne’s post, but then an old issue of mine reared its head…

That issue is my version of one mentioned by OM in a recent post of his about what he’s learned from blogging:

Harsh Reality: A difference of opinions

#1 – No one gives a shit. Unless somehow it relates to them.

I don’t know if he still does it, and I never quite figured out how he did it, but OM used to be one of the first bloggers on WordPress to follow new bloggers. Which is partly how he managed to amass such a huge following and follower count.

He’s also a very intriguing and interesting blogger. He’s been on WP for ages. He takes a lot of leaps and risks. And he’s still around on WordPress to tell the tale and share what he’s learned.

I learned that lesson of no one giving a shit long before I started blogging (blogging has actually helped me with the issue). It was one of the first lessons I learned as a child, before I learned to read and write.

I grew up with narcissists as parents.

Narcissistic people put a lot of effort into pretending that they don’t give a shit, and in making others feel that they are not worthy of being given a shit about. They do this in part because they’re afraid of giving a shit – they think it makes them weak and vulnerable.

They want others to believe that they don’t give a shit, because then they may be convinced of it too.

But they are also the ones most sensitive to and easily hurt by others not giving a shit about them. A lot of their behaviour comes down to them trying to make others give a shit about them. Yet they have to pretend they don’t give a shit about that.

“Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.”

― Francis Bacon

Narcissists are the writers who never read. They hate words. They use a lot of them and hate every single one. They don’t read their own writing but they expect others to read theirs and think it’s genius.

They do not read the writing of others unless it is to do something with it like plagiarise it because other people are reading it and praising it.

Narcissists are the talkers who never listen. They don’t listen to themselves, but they expect everyone else to listen to the same story told over and over and over again as though it was the first time they’d told it and immensely grand.

They don’t listen to anyone else, unless it is to steal the words of others to use as their own or to use it against others.

They like the sound of their voice dominating the airwaves, saying important things.

They never give their sources of information and inspiration credit – those must be kept secret and hidden from others as others might steal from their sources too, or worse still others might notice what has happened and credit would go where it is really due. They only give credit when it doesn’t matter or when trying to curry favour.

“It is a sad fate for a man to die too well known to everybody else, and still unknown to himself.”

― Francis Bacon

They’re sneak thieves who take even when they appear to be giving. They’ll pretend to be interested in you just to get you to be interested in them.

They’ll ask you probing questions about yourself, your opinions, your life, expect you to jump off a cliff to share your most personal self with them, while they hide behind the question, never sharing their own personal answers – their answers to their own questions invariably leave you feeling like a fool.

One of the first books I read about narcissists was written by a psychologist who exposed all the private therapy sessions he had with a patient of his throughout the book (the only thing he didn’t expose was her name), for the sake of proving how horrible, terrible, and dreadful narcissists were – by the end of the book I was convinced of one thing, it wasn’t the patient who was the narcissist.

They are terrified of having done to them what they do to others. The abyss is all around them, thus they must play it safe and push everyone else into it to save themselves.

One of the things I like about reading the writing on blogs, and writing my own posts, is that reader and writer are jumping off a cliff holding hands.

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

― Kurt Vonnegut

Hands up if you knew that quote above was coming…

That’s it from me…

Thank you to everyone who spread their wings on WordPress, shared their writing for me to read and inspired this thought journey for me.

Over to you!

11 thoughts on “Reading You, Writing You

Add yours

  1. I’ve been getting rid of books too except for a few old friends. We’re trying to downsize, sort of. Living in two locations doesn’t help. I’ve never liked that “what’s in your stack” question either. May as well ask me what’s in my rack. 😉

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    1. Haha! You’ve just reminded me that I haven’t used the rack in my dungeon to torture information out of anyone in quite a while. 😉

      I think the “what’s in your stack” is a good question when people are asking it for right reasons like JP asked it. She loves reading and is interested in what others are reading. Kind of like when you ask someone what films they’re interested in watching. You’re looking for inspiration, maybe to be introduced to a new author, book, subject, etc. It’s an exchange of finds, likes and interests.

      When it’s asked for the wrong reasons, eg. to show off, as a way to judge others for ego purposes, then it’s just bloody annoying. It’s like when people say they watch foreign films just to make the point that they’re intellectually superior… but foreign films are the same as non-foreign films, they’re just films. It’s very silly.

      Books are books (sorry, authors past and present) – it’s what we make of them that turns them into more than just books. It’s how we read them and what we read into them, and how we read them into our lives.

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  2. “For since he never really lived, they claimed he never really died.” I sometimes worry that after I die, no one, except a select few, will know that I ever lived, ever really existed. I have had very little impact on the lives of others, save my immediate family, so my passing will mean almost nothing and cause not even a noticeable ripple. Perhaps the only record of my having ever existed will be my blog. But, alas, that, too, has created nary a ripple. Oh well. As usual, Ursula, an interesting post.

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    1. Thank you, Fandango 🙂 That was a great small verse, I kept hearing it in my head as though it flowed like Mary had a little lamb.

      The concept of having an impact on others with our existence is difficult to quantify. It’s something which is easier for others to calculate for us, but even then if you think about all the people whose existence has had an impact on you – there’s a lot of people whom we don’t know have had an impact on us because their impact is a no-impact impact. As in when you do something which has a knock-on effect. Melanie wrote a post the other day about just that.

      You just never know, do you?

      At the end of the post she said:

      “I didn’t think it made any difference and I never knew, until just the other day, that it changed someone’s whole life. That from that moment they stopped going down the path that would have led them to prison and a ruined life, and started them on a path that has led to success, fulfillment and a peaceful golden years. They have love, a great family, contentment and a career (they’re now retired) that they can be justly proud of.

      I guess we just never know who we’ll touch do we?”

      If you think about the people we collectively remember, who had a big impact on the human race, a significant portion of the ones we may never forget had a very negative impact. We tend to remember the assholes of history more than the good.

      Google does that birthday thing on their home page, and I keep going – Who the bleep is that? So I check them out and find they made a significant contribution to society, to progress, to medicine, science, the life of humans… but I’ve never heard of them, or if I have I’ve forgotten about them, even though their existence had a big impact on my life – directly/indirectly.

      A part of living life is not knowing.

      You don’t know what lies ahead, maybe tomorrow, in a week, a month, year, one of your posts will go viral and bang you’ll be in the spotlight having a big impact. You might get a publishing contract, and bang you’ve got a book out there which may become a best seller that will live on after you pass on.

      What you do know is that you’re here now and this thought about having an impact is having an impact on you – that’s a writer’s best muse! And the issue is one which impacts most humans, when something is an issue others can relate to, writing about it can have a big impact 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the pep talk, Ursula. I know that I have a very small footprint — impact wise. My kids, my wife, and a very short list of a few others. What little impact I’ve had on those very few, though, has, I think, been positive, and I guess that’s not too bad of a legacy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome! Well done, as usual. I’ve shifted my collections to mostly e-books now due to space restrictions. Rediscovering the joy of reading, just for the pure delight of it has been such a wonderful find for me. But now, I read like two different personas, the reading me is like “oh this is a great story, how are they going to get out of this jam?” But the writer in me is no less enthusiastic but more “oh wow, what fabulous sentence structure, feel the rhythm and flow of it…. oooohhh what an imaginative inciting incident.” yadayadaya but somehow I still love to read. 😉

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    1. Thank you very much, JP 🙂

      I love your post. I love the way you shared your relationship with reading and books. Very alive, in the moment, and inspiring!

      I think that your new way of reading is fantastic, it adds a new layer to the experience. Reflecting on what you said about the two personas reading at the same time just made me realise I do something similar, not as a writer but as a thinker. There’s a part of me which has to argue/debate with everything I read, a bit like a guardian of the mind, being careful of the influences I let in when absorbing the thoughts others share through their writing. There’s another part which just wants to absorb everything and sort it out later, let it all flow through me, see what sticks. And then there’s another part which feels like the writer is with me and we’re having a conversation. Cool, thank you for giving me that perspective on it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lol, Merc in Aquarius… it’s telepathic too? Yes, maybe and no, I suppose 😉 I have read the series of blog questions from aguycalledbloke and obviously also the questions in your posts which kinda led to my post today.

    I began a post today titled reading, writing and my blog. However, due to my drifting away in thoughts and later some RL chores, it trimmed the reading part.

    I haven’t read your post yet and will do so after this comment.

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    1. Haha! I read an astrology post the other day which mentioned to keep an eye out for increased synchronicity, can’t recall why, it might have had something to do with transiting Mercury sextile transiting Uranus with both of them on the 29th degree of their signs.

      However I think in this case it may just be because reading and writing are a part of blogging, so bloggers tend to write posts about those activities. It’s a way sometimes to check in with yourself and reflect upon why you read, write, blog.

      I just read your post. Love it! I used to find writing posts difficult because I thought too much about writing them, about the act of writing, about trying to express myself, about doing it so someone would find it readable should they wish to read it. I got blocked all the time doing things that way. Then I started just channeling my thoughts through my fingers without thinking about what I was doing, and since I have Merc in Aqua like you, once you let the flow flow it flows. If you think about the symbol for Aquarius, the water bearer holding a vase with water flowing in and out… the more you allow to just flow naturally out, the more that it flows in, and the cup of writing runneth over 😉

      When it comes to what your blog means to you… let the blog reveal its meaning as you continue to blog, kind of like with life.

      Liked by 1 person

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