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"Neither exclusively a reader nor a writer, …"

I read a lot more than I write. Reading's how I fill my writing hopper, not so much with fresh ideas, but with inspirations. I read like an interior designer surveys paint samples, not to copy anything, but to remind myself of the possibilities prose holds. I am susceptible to subconsciously replicating whatever I'm reading, so I carefully choose what I read. I've developed a ruthlessness when it comes to finishing a book or a piece of writing. If it ain't going nowhere, I won't go there with it. When asked what I do for a living, I catch myself mute. "You mean, what do I do for money?" I reply. "Nothing." I read and write instead, mostly read; Reating.

Reating isn't the most lucrative occupation. It's only necessary, which gives it its only defensible attribute.
Were it not necessary, writing would be primarily comprised of, well, writing. Since it is necessary, writing's largely comprised of reading; long, often slow hours of absorption in preparation for a few sometimes glorious moments writing. I seem incapable of writing for longer than an hour or so at a time, while I quite often spend entire days immersed in reading a great piece of writing. I marvel at the plot development and the character presentations. I've never been much for writing dialogue, but some books seem nuthin but dialogue, the actual story an emergent property; pure magic.

Once I read a book, I pretty much forget everything about it. I hardly ever remember an author's name or a book title, or the so-called story. I don't read to retain what I read, but to condition that part of my brain that produces writing. Reading keeps that mind supple and adapting, lest I fall into a habit of reproducing the same danged thing every time. I feel less a student of good writing than a witness of it, watching without really absorbing. I'm Reating, not really reading at all. I suspect that I failed to learn how to read properly, possibly because I taught myself to read. Elementary school reading lessons mostly confused me, for they seemed to present an alien codification. Grammar and spelling seemed so secondary to the practice of reading, which I guess I learned to do by ear and not that explicitly consciously. Has anyone ever subvocalized "past participle" when they stumbled upon one?

Reating might qualify to be a form of trance. Time certainly seems irrelevant when I'm so engaged in it, whether absorbing or explicating. I realize that I am not so much a writer, but a genuine reater. Neither writing nor reading holding much significance if not perceived as parts of that broader whole. I might write to bleed off what reading leaves behind, and I might read to, as I said above, refill the hopper from which my writing draws. Neither exclusively a reader nor a writer, I guess that I might be Reating instead.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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