Reading for writers

This week I’ll be starting the first of my Autumn reading groups.  Lined up are two seven week courses and a day school, that means I’ll be discussing one novel and two short story collections.  So alongside the writing groups that are already up and running, I shall be kept on my toes until Christmas.

I’m not complaining.  What I’ve found is that these two strands compliment each other. At the first pass, I read purely as a reader, sometimes racing, at others, taking my time, getting involved with the characters: enjoying the story.  It’s only after that my work starts.

I see my role as being to help a group get the most from what we’ve read.  Book coverSo I re-read the set piece again, and again.  I delve into the writing, asking myself questions about what the author was doing.  I construct a series of feasible theories, suggestions, questions and ideas that I can take in to intrigue and challenge my class with.

The interesting and intriguing thing about this process is that no matter how thoroughly I think I’ve investigated a story, when we get into a group discussion, we always find at least one more way to read it.  Everyone brings their own understanding of the world to a story, and sharing our ideas opens up our perspectives.  I learn loads.  

book coverReading groups seem to me a perfect place to investigate how skillful writing can be. I take my discoveries not only into my own writing, but also to my writing classes.

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2 thoughts on “Reading for writers

  1. Nice thinking, Cath. I’m in a book club and I am always amazed at the different points of view as a reader. As a writer, reading keeps me informed of contemporary thinking. It also allows me to investigate the writing process. I have a book club meeting tomorrow night and the book under discussion is The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. It should be an interesting meet.

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  2. Hi Lynda, thanks. A good reading group is such a bonus for us solitary(writing) types.
    That’s not a book I know. It’s an intriguing title. Will you be reporting the outcome?

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