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When A Reader Becomes A Writer - A Reading Perspective

How does the act of writing and reading intersect?

A Reading Perspective

Even if I could find an answer to this question, the answer would perhaps apply only to me and not to every reader out there.

Virginia Woolf writes:

“The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions.”
Virginia Woolf on reading
image credits: The New Yorker

Reading books – novels, plays, poetry, essays – allows a very important quality that a reader can possess forever and that is AUTONOMY.

Here autonomy refers to the freedom we have in choosing what to read, how to read, and when to read. And what, how, and when not to (because this is important too).

But such freedom, Woolf cautions, can stagnate very quickly if we come to books with “blurred and divided minds.”

An admirable beginning, on the other hand, would be to banish all preconceptions when we read. Rather than dictating to a book what you think, feel, and believe; try to become the book.

To destroy the spirit of freedom is to close yourself to the world that the author has built for you. Because every book – regardless of its genre – contains within it a world unlike any other.

And when that doesn’t work, when you cannot live in this other world, Virginia Woolf has a fix for that too –

Attempt to reconstruct YOUR WORLD in words.

Recall events (those evoked in solitude or in company) and reveal their textures in words. See how words mutate and are reborn in your own world.

And then, when you open the pages of timeless works of literature, you understand how difficult and complex the art of writing (and reading) is.

Because when you attempt to write, it’s easier to scatter into a thousand contradictory sensations.

Now wouldn’t you agree that when you read, those very thousand contradictory sensations merge into one? Different parts of the mind are now exposed. Those that construct us and those that we dissolve into.   

Books are able to light up many such dark corners.

“Nothing is more fascinating than to grope and stumble in such darkness… But there is no staying there.”

Every word beckons and just as long as we spent hours and hours disentangling such depths, we know that we are safe; we are able to awaken in myriad ways; find ourselves over and over again and to “exercise our own creative powers.”

The joys of reading lie here and nowhere else.

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