“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.”
My first encounter with my teacher Marianne Williamson was at a Hay House Writer’s Conference in San Francisco 6 years ago. I remember breaking down into tears as soon as I saw her enter the room and move towards the stage. It remains one of the greatest memories on my journey as a writer. Being the phenomenal orator that she is, she told us that if we wanted to be great writers, we had to read the great writers. That day, I drove straight to the nearest bookshop after the conference and bought my first Hemingway. I fell in love with Earnest and his earnest passion for clear-cut short sentences.
I’ve gone back and forth on reading and its effects on my mind. There was a while when I stopped reading all-together because I wanted to develop my own ideas, my own arguments around life and wisdom. I wanted to become my own voice without the echoes of past or current writers.
Yet, reading is to the mind what healthy dieting is to the body. If our brain is going to be the main apparatus of our work as creatives…don’t we owe it adequate, revealing, and timeless nourishment?
Reading great fiction gives us the closure we don’t often get with the mysteries and sudden drops in life. It is vital to the mind and to the heart of the creative individual to create content, art, imageries, a wider emotional horizon as an umbrella for the lost souls.
A study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggested that people who read literary fiction performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence.
Reading fiction forces us to fill in the gaps between meaning and events, and search “for meanings among a spectrum of possible meanings.” It gifts us a sense of cognitive closure…a desire and need to eliminate ambiguity in life’s most mysterious and complicated problems.
It is probably the best (and most enjoyable as well) manner to enrich our vocabulary and maneuver the art of bringing fictional scenes into the reality of our senses.
William Faulkner said, “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.”
During an interview in New York City in 1956 that you can read here, Faulkner suggests that the writer needed three things: “experience, observation, and imagination—any two of which, at times any one of which—can supply the lack of the others.”
The more we experience qualitative works of literature, the more likely our mind will issue qualitative content that moves hearts over time.
Women’s rights activist and writer Susan Sontag believed that:
“a novel worth reading is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.”
From now on, I will view fine fiction as homework for my task as a writer. I know that when I take long breaks from reading eloquent books, my writing just doesn’t have the same steam on paper. It bumps on empty spaces within my mind…waiting for the finest word to appear.
Brain development is contingent upon experience plasticity — any given area of the brains grows as we use it.
A writer’s job is to notice the most meaningful tangent and the most universal essence of human experience to make living more palpable and more hopeful.
Reading keeps our mental and imaginative soil fresh and ripe for more inspiration to plow through, more ideas to become the great stories of tomorrow. It embellishes the walls of our spirit so that we may make beautiful segments of truth for the human spirit to blossom.