Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More on amateurs in the Art of Music and Language

I've long compared the art of music and language. I once went to a writing group and we went around the room, reporting how much we had written that month. One lady got uncomfortable and reported with some frustration that she had only written a few pages in the last year.

I thought that was so sad. Who cares? A few pages ever is a good thing. In the art of music and painting, amateurs abound. They become better consumers, and they get more enjoyment and understanding of the art. It's a good thing for them, good thing for the professional musicians and artists.

And so I've said that language should be the same way. That writing groups and organizations should encourage and embrace writers: both professional and amateur. Amateur used to be a noble word, but lately it's lost its respect.

The basis for my beliefs has been that amateur musicians understand and enjoy music better.

But I realized, yesterday, that understanding what an author is doing does not make me enjoy reading better.

I was reading To The Nines, and I was so annoyed when she introduced the murderer. As soon as she described him, I knew that he was the murderer. When I read a mystery, I try not to figure out whodunnit. But when I stumbled across the killer in To The Nines, it felt like he was waving a huge red flag and saying, "Hey! It's me!"


Luckily the characters are awesome enough that I didn't mind too much.

But in general, I find that my reading enjoyment often gets interrupted by noticing the techniques or reasons and author is writing something. It's jarring and annoying.

And my patience for books has significantly decreased. Once upon a time, if I started a book, I'd finish it. I was a book slut and I loved it and reading was fun. Don't get me wrong, reading is still fun.

But not as fun.

I had the same problem with music. After playing and listening to it for eight to ten hours a day, the thought of listening to music for enjoyment was like more work. I craved silence. So has your writing practice improved your enjoyment of books or decreased it?

5 bonus scribbles:

StarvingWriteNow 9/12/2006 09:40:00 PM  

I feel like I've expanded my horizons from writing. I'm looking at other genres, taking more chances with what I choose to read. However, my writing habit has increased my enjoyment of good stories and decreased my patience for bad ones. I guess it's like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

nessili 9/12/2006 11:04:00 PM  

Interesting thought.
Unfortunately, I think writing has diminished my old "joy of reading." Not that I'd give up writing, but:

1. I've become paranoid of "accidentally" stealing story ideas/plots/characters/etc.
2. I'm forever analyzing the author's technique instead of getting lost in the story.
3. I feel guilty for reading when I ought to be off writing instead (tho' I think I'm going to go pull an old friend off the bookshelf and take a tubbie right now. Haven't done that in eons--thanks for the idea :)

Michele 9/12/2006 11:08:00 PM  

Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog and I am SO glad you got a chuckle from my post. Always good to know.

Thought I'd return the favor and pop on over to say , "HI!"

So, Hi!

Interesting blog you have. Like the writing and reader's bent.
I'm a "wanna be" at this point. I have to get into the habit of writing a page everyday. Even if it's ick.

Since getting serious, I've noticed that I pick up typo's more often. Of course I make plenty of my own, *grin*, but it does amaze me as to how many actually get printed into books.

I recently read one by an E-author I'm starting to follow. I guess everyone has a bad day, but I think it's embarassing when it goes to print. This one story was not fleshed out, had more telling versus showing and the arguements were lame and didn't make sense for the character speaking them.

So, has my writing practice affected my reading?
Oh yes!
Now I have words to explain what isn't working and why. And I hope to use that to further my understanding of my own writing.

But when it works,when the writer does her/his craft well, I am even more impressed because now I'm starting to understand just how hard an author works to create a whole story.

This is good, yes?

Anyway, nice post, thanks again for visiting my blog and have yourself an awesome writing day!

Devon Kellogg 9/13/2006 03:43:00 PM  

That's so true what you said about musicians developing a better understanding of music and therefore, a better appreciation of it. I played guitar for a number of years, and after learning more about music, I could hear subtleties I couldn't before. I could hear the difference between 3/8 time and 4/4 time. And after learning what a key change is and what it means, I could hear when one occurred. Before, it didn't even register. The more you learn about an art form, the richer your experience of it gets.

Same is true for writing and reading. The more you learn about writing, the better of a reader you become—and vice-versa. That’s also a reason why no writer should feel guilty for reading when they should be writing. Reading is always productive, especially if you’re thinking about how the work was written.

Brit Blaise 9/14/2006 11:52:00 PM  

In my case, it's definitely decreased my ability to read and enjoy a book. Two of my favorite authors are head-hoppers and have terrible craft to the point I can’t read them any longer. If I stay with paranormal, it tends to help me shut off the editor inside me who sees the flaws in other’s writing, but the “B” is a slacker when it comes to mine!