Be a writer who reads

I’ve changed jobs. And so I’m reading less. My last job, where I worked for 13 years, was 50 miles from my house. For 75 minutes, twice each day, I would listen to audio books. Drive the roads I knew by heart and take in the words of writers. To feed my heart. My brain. My inner writer.

Now I work 12 miles from home. The urgency to fill that time isn’t there. It’s easy to tune into NPR for a quick news update. To listen to the local independent radio station. Or to a few Josh Ritter tunes.

But I miss the reading. The listening. The thinking about writing during those hours every day.

And I’ve been cranky. Crankier than one would expect given the diminished stress I should feel about not being on the road for so long every day.

Writing, even thinking about writing, centers me. Listening to writing, thinking about the writing of others, the craft. Focusing on the words. Imagining characters. Disliking a piece of work. It’s all connected. To the work that I do as a writer. To my day. To my state of mind. Listening to writing also makes me more likely to talk about writing. And reading. And the more I read the more I want to write. I haven’t been doing enough of either lately.

Ironically, the last book I devoured was Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing, a book about writing. But it’s really about so much more. And it oozes with support and respect for writers and is at once encouraging and inspiring. I love books about writing and have shelves of them at home. But this one has moved to the top of my list of favorites. It is inspirational but also practical and helpful. Because I had the honor of attending a writing workshop with Shapiro a few years ago, I can almost hear her voice when I read her words. And I can most definitely see her as I read. She sits barefoot and cross legged, listening listening to the uncertainties of other writers. And then responding in ways so supportive, so possible that I want to bleed ink onto pages.

My list of books to read is long and growing longer. And in this time of transition I need to work harder to go to that list, to choose a book, to start up my listening and reading habits again. All will help me get my own words down. And that will help me to feel more like me. A writer who reads. A reader who writes.

About: jennifer_grow (18 Posts)

Jen lives with her partner John and their three children in western Massachusetts. Since 2009 Jen's been blogging at Momalom, where she mostly writes about her life as a mother writer, the demands and rewards of each, and what it means to be a creative person always striving for more. She works full time as an editor at Mount Holyoke, her alma mater, and writes when she can squeeze in the time. She's been a contributor to Project: Underblog since November 2012.

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  1. We used to listen to audio books on long trips with the kids. Because they were young, we mostly listened to “The Cat Who…” mystery books by Lilian Jackson Braun or Young Adult Books. But, it has been a long time since I have listened to a book.

    Reading, however, does inspire me to write, and some authors inspire me more than others. I wish I could squeeze in more reading than I do. Lately, it seems I don’t read more than an hour per day – if that. And I am never up to date with the latest releases! Maybe, that is because I spend too much time reading blogs :)

  2. I like to listen to Podcasts and audio books while I go out on a long walk. Lokking forward to checking out a couple of the books you have mentioned. Enjoy the shorter commute.

  3. I know exactly how you feel. I never listen to audio books anymore– my car time is now devoted to preschool songs. Sometimes I actually envy people with long commutes! (Sometimes.)

  4. I miss my commute for the same reason. Working from home with three little ones means very little reading. But I do long for it…

  5. Bleed ink onto the page… Yes. Those moments when that happens- they make it all worth it. I hope you find some balance soon, friend. xo


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