Tuesday, May 17, 2011

For Writers, An Impossible Choice

Last weekend, at an author event/panel I had the pleasure of going to, someone in the audience asked a question that got me thinking and that I’ve since discussed with other writers, so I figured I’d throw it out here and see what my blogger friends have to say. And, for the record, most of the authors on the panel seemed to feel the impossibility of the choice as much us in the audience. Anyway, here goes:

If you could either never write or never read again, which would you choose?

Wow. I know, right? Nearly impossible.

I just can’t pick. I keep going back and forth.

The year after my first son was born I did very little reading and didn’t write at all. Once I got used to balancing things a bit more, I started doing both again. It was then that I realized when I’m writing/creating, is when I most feel like me. It’s my escape and my true love and where my heart and soul are. It’s everything I am, I think. And well, it fulfills me in a way that hardly anything else does. I don’t think I could stop writing.

But reading – wow. There is nothing like reading either. And well, as great as writing is, it is work and reading is nothing but pleasure and enjoyment and well, if I could never, ever get lost in a book again – where would I be? No. There’s no way I could give up reading. Ever.

So, basically, I have no idea. As one of the authors on the panel said, can I choose death?

It’s nearly impossible, at least for me.

So what would you choose?


  1. Not easy to choose! I'd have to say I couldn't give up writing. I'll just create the stories I'd want to read.

  2. It would be impossible to give up writing or reading.

    During my last pregnancy I had hypertension, borderline pre-eclampsia, and it caused my hands to swell up to sausage size. I couldn't write. Couldn't put pen to paper or type on the computer. This was only 3 months, but it felt like forever. It was terrible. I did read, but I kept having ideas that I wanted to scribble down. I did wind up dictating some things into an old tape recorder.

    Once my daughter was born my hands finally went back to normal, but I haven't forgotten the experience, especially when the writing is hard. I'm grateful for the simple act of struggling. I can physically write: "I can't think of anything to write" on the page (with a flower doodle) and be thankful that my hand pain was only temporary.

  3. Wow, talk about a dystopian world. LOL I don't get to read as often anymore, and it's rare to get lost in a book like I used to, so when I do, it's such an amazing feeling. I don't think I could give up writing though. As much as I grumble about it some days, my brain is always working on a story, as if it's reading to itself or something. LOL

  4. I don't know if I could choose either. Reading is like breathing to me. On the other hand, I tell lots of stories without writing them down, so if I couldn't write, I could continue to do that.

  5. A fascinating conundrum! I must cogitate and respond.

  6. Oh dear, I'm not sure I could choose. I started writing, though, because there were stories I wanted to read, but they hadn't been written. So I guess that's an answer. But I'm sure my writing would get crappier if I couldn't read too.

    This is the stuff of nightmares. ;-)

  7. But when you write, you have to read what you're writing. Right?
    At least, you should.
    Too much thinking...:)

  8. Great post, Jenn. As I tweeted, the lawyer for me found the loophole in giving up writing novels and still being able to write other things like short stories, screenplays, etc. But if the choice is straight up stop writing everything then, damn, that would be tough.

  9. Hmm, I'd give up writing. Sometimes I want to give it up anyway, it can be so frustrating. I don't see how I'd get through life without books to read.

  10. I'm surprised that other writers would give up reading before writing. I love books too much. It would be hard to live without them, plus it's hard to see how a writer who didn't read would be worth reading.

  11. If I couldn't read, I don't know if I'd want to write. And if I couldn't write, I'd be a sad panda. Obviously I wouldn't want to lose either, but if I lost one, I'd use the other to console myself if at all possible. And if I lost both ... let's not talk about that.

  12. I love to write, but I could never give up reading. If I didn't have all those amazing authors to aspire to, my writing wouldn't be worth much.

  13. I'd give up writing. I don't have as many stories in me as there are stories out in the world and as much as I love films they don't compare to the character depth you can get from a book. Plus, how can you be a good writer without being a devoted reader?
    - Sophia.

  14. Ooh, that's awful. But I guess...maybe...I'd give up reading. Right now, I spend most my time writing, not reading. And i've been so unsatisfied with what I've been reading. But that's unfair. That's just selection bias right now.

    I really can't decide.

  15. Oww... what an awful question.
    I guess there is a part of me that only writes because I read.
    So if I chose writing, then I wouldn't be able to read... so I wouldn't be able to write...

    I don't know.
    My brain has turned to mush just at the thought!