There are few writers who are touted by pretentious readers more than James Joyce. Maybe David Foster Wallace? Or William Shakespeare?
But when I first came across Joyce in my high school senior year English class while reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, I had no idea that reading this guy’s work was considered pretentious. I didn’t even know who he was, what else he had written, or why anyone studied him at all.
Heck, the very first line of that book is “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo ….”
How could pretentious people get behind a guy who writes the word “moocow” or about a “baby tuckoo” (whatever that is)?
Isn’t that essentially gibberish?
There may be no fiercer turf war in literary society than the preservation of a book’s pristine quality.
Seriously, those Oxford comma folks have nothing on this debate.
To write in, dog ear, markup, and annotate the books you read and love—or to carefully respect and honor the delicate spine and pure-white paper … that is the question.
I personally have been, and will always be, a contributor to the art of marginalia. Comments, symbols, highlights, underlines—they are all in there. Being able to mark important areas and note brief thoughts on what I’ve read are an essential part of understanding and interpreting what I’ve read.
That isn’t the case for everyone, though. In fact, some people get downright feisty about it.Continue reading
“Copying is the highest form of flattery,” my parents would tell me whenever I was annoyed about my friends “copying” me. I didn’t believe them. (I was 8 years old at the time; can you blame me?)
But then I started college, and this “copying is flattery” came back to haunt me. My literature professors would tell me, “If you want to write like an academic, you need to read a lot of academic writing.”
So, essentially, if I wanted to do well in college literature courses, I had to figure out a way to copy these writers.Continue reading
It’s an absolute necessity that anyone who wishes to write must read, and read a lot.
Not only is reading proven to improve your writing and help you learn, but reading also exposes you to creative methods you may not have been aware of before. That goes for any creative media. The more you consume, the more you learn and grow as a writer.
For instance, without reading poets like Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson, I would have never known that some of poetry’s greatest works contain zero rhymes. Without watching Memento, I would have never realized that time doesn’t have to be linear in the films I create.
Consuming media doesn’t just teach you, it shapes you.