On Reading and Writing

January 16, 2012

As I begin writing this post, I already feel in over my head, under-equipped to try to express what I am feeling without sounding didactic, obvious, dumb. I’m going to try. In many ways it proves my point  (that I will quickly get to) that I am writing this blog for myself, for the practice of writing, as motivation to observe closely and look for ways to articulate truths, however coarsely.

Scott and I just subscribed to the weekend edition of the New York Times, the print version, and it just arrived for the first time this weekend, split between Saturday and Sunday. We read the online version all the time, it’s in the constant browsing rotation for both of us, but now we have the print version as well. I love it. It feels shiny and new again. I’ve had this conversation many times with many different friends that there’s something about reading the physical paper that makes you read things wouldn’t necessarily click on online. It’s less self-selecting, less targeted. One of the reasons that I love the New Yorker is that my attention and curiosity often pulls me to read about something I wouldn’t have told you that I find interesting, and yet. I do.

It makes me wonder about the experience of reading and writing. The fact that reading the paper or the New Yorker is different online than in print is interesting. I wonder what all this writing is for, and why it feels satisfying and luxurious to hold print material in our hands rather than to scan it on a screen. How has giving webpages an inverted L-shaped passover (that’s how we read things online, reading the first two or three lines across and then skimming down to the bottom, missing most of it) informed going back to getting lost in actual books, turning down pages, making notes in the margins? Are we more facile readers because there are so many ways to encounter and digest words? What is all of this writing for, I ask again? I’ve struggled with this, which I imagine is why I can’t get past this cheap, fast and most-importantly low-commitment blog. If I hadn’t started it in Brazil, would I just be journaling? (I do that, too, you don’t get to read everything I think, but perhaps way more than you need), would I have had the motivation to start writing a book rather than just writing about eventually writing a book here? It’s hard to say. Are we in a time of more options and diversity of word vehicles in a good way? Or has there been too much of an opening for laziness? It’s hard to imagine that more options is a bad thing, but in only speaking for myself, I know that it leads to guilt (I should read everything!) and sadness (there’s so much I will never know) and excuses (well I’m writing something, at least.) Without knowing any real answers, in the meantime, it’s nice to turn the pages of the paper, inside, on freezing cold January Sundays.

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One Response to “On Reading and Writing”

  1. Janice Winter said

    i Hi Brooke,. I really enjoyed your Blog. Looking forward to your next one.

    Love,

    Grandma

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