Pay attention to the words

I started Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer last week. I think it’s an important one to learn from early, before jumping into a slew of the others. Of course, I just started Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens yesterday, and am loving it. Is it too much to read 4 books at a time? I’ll have to make sure I don’t let any of them slip through the cracks.

Prose made some points that I liked and hadn’t heard before, that I will paraphrase here. She tells readers to slow down, rather than speed up through all the classics. Pay attention to the words! Remember that every page started blank, and every word was at one point debated and chosen. The words are like the notes of the musician, like the brush strokes of the painter. Great imagery.¬†She also encouraged a focus on the classics. Not that we shouldn’t read modern lit, but that we have to know it’s the end of “the¬†extremely complicated sentence that is literature.”

This is pushing me to think about what I’m doing, and where I’m taking myself. We are all essentially a compilation of what we expose ourselves too (the difference of course being how we perceive and manipulate that input), so whatever I pursue will shape me. Another thought I had was: shouldn’t it be just as important to read bad literature as good? I want that to be true, but I’m not 100% sure it is.

Anyway, I’m very excited to attend this event tonight, and can’t wait to report back with the details.