. . . go hand in hand.
People always ask if I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I say no. But then I quickly admit that I’ve always been a reader. Am still reading Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways, and I loved what she said about novelists and reading. An excerpt:

“While the desire to write a novel does not guarantee that the resulting novel will be a good one . . . it is the only way to begin. Most often it grows out of a compulsive habit of reading as a child . . .

“We were reading because it was easy and fun and because we were unsupervised. We were reading to find companions more congenial than those around us. We wanted to fill our heads with nonsense and tune out practical considerations. We were not, most likely, athletic or useful sorts of children. We were reluctant to help around the house or to go outside and play. We did not have very good manners, because in numerous ways . . . reading books is deleterious to good manners. We did not have good sleep habits, because if we had, we would not have read under the bedcovers with a flashlight, or held the book up to the moon that shone through the window, and ruined our eyes.”

And this is the best part:
“We were reading because we had two lives, an inner life and an outer life, and they were equally important to us and equally vivid. A novelist is someone whose inner experience is as compelling as the details of his or her life, someone who may owe more to another author, never met, than to a close relative seen every day. A novelist has two lives–a reading and writing life, and a lived life. He or she cannot be understood at all apart from this.”

Well said, Jane.



  1. Mocha with Linda

    Loved this. I’m not a novelist but oh, I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember! For many of the reasons listed here.

  2. Cristine Eastin

    Your post made me smile—remembering reading under the covers with my clip-on reading light—reading Nancy Drew curled up in a living room chair, oblivious to my mother vacuuming around me—writing about smugglers—writing teenage angst in the ’60’s. Then my reading and writing got diverted for years and years in the name of education. After I finished my dissertation I don’t think I read a book for fun for two years! That’s bad. Now I’m fully recovered and writing for serious. Write on!


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