Most of the writers I know began to write because of their love of reading… but what is that love all about? Why is it we read? What do we get out of it?
Some readers will say “escape”.
When I began reading I had nothing to escape from. Every day was an adventure with something new in it. Sure, sometimes school was boring, but mostly it challenged me, as did interacting with the kids and with the teachers. Escape from what?
No, I don’t think we read to escape. I think we read to gain experience.
Have you ever caught yourself telling someone a story about something you’ve done only to recall that no, it wasn’t you who performed the feat, but another? Or even a character in a book? Have you ever had the experience of retelling a story so many times that you have accepted it as a part of your personal reality? Might you have had this experience without noticing?
We gain experience through reading. We learn how to climb mountains, how to build bombs, how to win at chess. We learn tactics for dealing with a friend or spouse with special problems. We come to our books for experience.
…and if we can agree on that, we can walk away with the notion that when we write, we are providing experience for our reader. We are doing more than simple regurgitation of ideas we’ve had. We can do more than titillate, we can on some level actually instruct while entertaining our reader.
And, at the end of the day, isn’t that something? Something good? Something worthwhile?
Isn’t it valuable to know why we read, and what we can offer our readers?