This may sound like a heretical thing for a writer to say, but here goes. I’m going to say it anyway.
I’m not really such a booky kind of person.
Okay, let me set things straight from the start. I love books, really I do. I love reading them. I especially love writing them. I couldn’t imagine a life where books didn’t exist.
And, as a writer, how could it be any other way? How can you not be a writer if you’re not really into books? In short, how can a non-booky kind of person be a writer?
I think it’s all about degree. There are different ways of loving books. And much as I do love them, they’re not the only things in my life. They’re not the only things I care about. They’re not the only things I think about, or talk about.
Books have their (very important) place within the general sphere of interests and influences that govern my life, but they are just one of many. Family is a big one, as are friends. I love television and movies. I love music (and I can tell you if I wasn’t a writer, I sure would love to be a musician). I love sport. I love travelling. I love taking an interest in the wider world around me, and what’s currently happening both in Australia and overseas, politically, culturally and otherwise.
Why do I feel it’s important to make this point? I’m not sure. Maybe it doesn’t matter. It’s just a feeling I get when I spend time in the world of books and literature and stuff (I see that world as incorporating aspects like the literary pages of newspapers and book-related social media forums – I won’t name any of the guilty parties). When I see some of the articles or posts, I get the impression that books really are the over-riding interests of the authors. When I read book reviews or similar pieces, the superlatives in the text, the ability to effortlessly name drop a bunch of similar works and the drooling over particular passages give me a sense that there is little more important than the book in question, and that once it is finished, the only thing the writer cares about is diving into the next item on their reading list.
And I suppose that’s all right. If people want to place books as the centrepiece of their lives, they have every right to. I can’t criticise it. I guess what it does make me feel is that a lot of literary people, and as a result a lot of books, seem to have a fairly narrow horizon. When I read book reviews of latest releases (particularly in the more literary sphere), I find very little that grabs my imagination.
As far me, I like to keep a broader outlook. Sure I read, but not all the time. I will often take a break for several months to pursue other interests. I hope that this provides me with a broader range of subject matter and makes me a more interesting writer. So maybe I’m cutting off some options by foregoing opportunities to fully immerse myself in the world of literature. But I’m pretty sure the sacrifice is worth it.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as