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ESSAY: Why I Love to Read and to Write by...

Last winter, I posted that I would love to hear from readers, writers, bloggers about why they read, write and blog. Gail Dayton, author of the new book, New Blood, offers up this personal account.

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I love to read. No, I looooove to read. And I read fast. I read about 300 books a year (counting re-reads). So when I saw the Ja(y)nes offer to post essays on reading, writing and the love thereof, I got to thinking-’WHY do I love reading and writing so much.

It’s the stories. My cousin Diane taught me to read when I was just four, and from that moment, I’ve been caught up in the worlds opened up to me by books. But I think my addiction to story must go earlier than that, because my mother likes to talk about taking me to see Bambi with my multitude of cousins when I was three. (Mama is the youngest of four sisters, each of whom had four kids, except for Aunt Bettye, who had six…The family Thanksgiving is massive.) For weeks afterward, my invisible friend Bambi went everywhere with me. Hey, at least Bambi was a deer and didn’t require his own plate at the dinner table, like the fella’s invisible friend Mister. (Mister got on a plane one day and flew to Chicago, never to be seen again.)

Stories fire my imagination and, for a little while, let me live in That world, instead of this-’often boring-’one. In the world of story, ANYTHING can happen.

Which is why I write. I still have invisible friends. No, really. TIME magazine quoted researchers who discovered that fiction writers’ relationships with their characters is virtually identical with a child’s relationship with his invisible friends. We know they’re not real. Honest. We do know. But we still have no control over them. They go off and do stuff just because they want to, and we have no way to stop them.

Back to the topic. I don’t write just because I get to hang out with invisible friends. I write because I get to tell stories. And in those stories, ANYTHING can happen. Dragons are real. Soul mates can find their destiny. People can recover from tragedy. Even all of the above. And, despite the fact that characters can go their own way, I can still tell the story I want to tell. (The characters usually know better than I do.)

I started wanting to tell stories MY way back in-’junior high, I think. That’s when I inherited a bunch of my dad’s old books. Copies of Robin Hood in archaic English. The originalTarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I literally read the cover off Tarzan. The only problem I saw was that Tarzan didn’t have a sister. Jane really didn’t cut it as a place-holder for the role I wanted to play in the book. I wanted to live in the jungle too. So I made up one.

I graduated from fan fiction sometime in college, eventually learned to finish a book, and here I am. I still love to read, and I still love to write (even though these days it sometimes can feel like work). Because it’s all about the story.

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If you would like to contribute a guest essay on why you read, why you write or why you blog, please send an email to Jane at dearauthor.com with “Essay” in the subject line.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

10 Comments

  1. Estara
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 07:28:59

    I read for the same reasons ^^. I dreamt my fanfiction for years up until university… I even tried to start a fantasy book but it sucked. So now I just fall into you writers’ imagination and enjoy. Great to read that you could take the next steps and write AND publish.

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  2. J Oponce
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 08:35:23

    How my, what article in the TIME mag? Do you know in which volume it was? I want to read it 0.0

    It was also the love of a good story that did it for me. In my case though, I stopped writing when I discovered reading. I’m so lazy, it was much easier to get the stories whole from writers than to make them up myself… the writers’ at least had closure.

    Jumping suject: TARZAN!!! It was so cool. It brought me to ERB, and to my favourite series of his, the Mars one — especially the later volumes. The one where the hero gets his brain put in a piecemeal construct is such a riot, no? A monster-like hero… *drool*

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  3. Keishon
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 09:27:04

    I enjoyed your essay and thanks for contributing it to the community. Good luck with your writing, too.

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  4. Bev Stephans
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 11:49:48

    I too had invisible friends as a child. They never stayed around to inspire a writing muse. Enjoyed your essay.

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  5. Janine
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 13:20:49

    I enjoyed this essay as well. Thanks for writing it.

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  6. Gail Dayton
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 14:48:04

    @J Oponce: It was several years ago that I read that article. We weren’t living in Galveston then, so at least 2 years ago. The article was actually about children and their invisible friends, but the quote about fiction writers stuck with me. Maybe if you go to TIME.com and search…

    Holy Crap. It’s there. The article. I searched on “children imaginary friend” and it came up at the top. It’s called The Power of Make Believe, and it was published 2/7/2005, so 3 years ago. Wow. They even have 1969 articles available… Cool. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1025173,00.html

    @ everybody! Thanks for your comments. It’s nice to know people who come from the same place I’m coming from. (sentence doesn’t make much sense, but…)

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  7. rebyj
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 15:34:01

    I enjoyed your comments as well.
    Imaginations are wonderful .I was given Pinnochio (the real one) at a very young age and can barely remember a time when I didn’t know how to read. I turned everything around me into real boys and girls for years lol. I can even remember some of the stories I concocted and that’s been 40 years ago! (yeah I’m old)
    Keep telling stories Gail.

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  8. Jessa Slade
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 15:38:40

    I loved ERB’s Barsoom books. All that “hot, Virginian blood” :)

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  9. J Oponce
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 17:55:47

    @Ms Dayton: wow, 1000 thanks to the webalization of the world. Interesting article, I can see why it stuck, the example they give is rather… impressive.

    @Jessa Slade: Barsoom, right. Shame on me, I’d actually forgotten Mars’ “real” name. And the Virginian blood! (>.<) That braggart.

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  10. Essaylandia
    Jun 19, 2009 @ 04:25:37

    I rarely do not comment on blogs but yours I had to stop and say Great article!!

    ReplyReply

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