Another Thing I Can’t Explain

Oct 26, 2019 | 0 comments

Author Willard Espy at Work, c.1940

This morning I woke up to a lovely, complimentary email from two of my favorite Kuzzen people.  I should  never have opened it, but little did I know.  They had sent me a story they are writing together and wanted my opinion.  “Be honest!” they said.  OMG!

There are all sorts of reasons that I didn’t want to open that long attachment.  First of all, I have no idea how to critique someone else’s writing.  I’ve never taken a creative writing class so I don’t even have a mental model of where to begin, what to look for, what to suggest.  I’ve never read an article or a book on how to write, though there are a gzillion of the out there.  For me, asking for my opinion boils down to a single question:  Do you like it?

Author Louisa Mae Alcott, late 1880s

But that’s not the real problem.  My very serious, gut-level reaction to such a request has nothing to do with critical reading and everything to do with what is going on with my own writing process at any given moment.  I long ago discovered that if I am deep into a writing project (which is the case right now) I cannot read much more than a grocery list or a recipe.  I just can’t do it.

I hasten to add, however, that I do a great deal of reading for background information — details about the times or places that I’m writing about.  But… I don’t consider that reading in the usual sense.  It comes under the category of “research” for me.  Not like reading a good story or book, whether fiction or not, for the sheer pleasure of it

So… right now, I’m in my working frame of mind and reading anything — even an adventure by my beloveds — is an impossibility.  I can’t really explain it.  I’ve don’t believe I’ve spoken about this particular affliction before — except to Nyel who keeps ordering books from the library for me, anyway.  Just in case.



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