Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Bitch Is Not Top of the Class in Reading

I really meant it when I said that I don't know how Susan Hill does what she does: all that reading while writing and publishing and blogging and all the other things she does - and not quite in the way some people took it. My tone was pure wonder.

You know, when I go to her site and to those of all those other omnivorous readers, something tightens in my stomach: that very same feeling I used to get when I stood on the sidelines and all those mega-athletic types ran the hundred metres etc. I feel inadequate, and because it's books, and because as a writer I'm supposed to be a well-read type, I feel guilty about it too.

It's pathetic, I know, but I just don't find reading books all that easy. They can take me over. They can affect me in such a way that they fill my mind, colour everything, they can even change me, as both a person and a writer. It's like a love affair in fact, it really is: if I like a book, I'm transported, I day-dream it, with no eyes for any other, sometimes going over its imagery and language for days, or even weeks after I have put it down. For this reason, as I have written on my other blog, it can be quite lethal for me to read while I'm in the middle of writing something myself. And in a way, if books don't do this, for me they're not really worth reading . It's precisely the effect I would love to be able to have on others as a writer.

No need to tell me: Bitch as I am, I'm also pretty weedy.
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