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