I Am Definitely A Reader

Throughout the development of my relationship with written word, reading and writing have always been inseparably linked. Growing up as an avid reader, every adult I encountered told me I would one day be a great writer. For the longest time, I only considered myself a reader and never imagined myself as a writer. That thought process shifted once I learned how to write for myself; nowadays I consider myself both a reader and a writer.  Yet despite the importance with which I now regard each action, my relationship with written is noticeably uneven, especially in the level of importance I give to and my emotional responses to either reading or writing. “Reading” is always the first on my list when a questionnaire asks for my hobbies, fondly looked on as a source of learning and growth. While I think of myself as a reader, I still have a much harder time considering myself a writer.

I think this has a lot to do with the idea Deborah Brandt presents in the seventh chapter of her book, Literacy and Learning: that reading is purposed with “being good” while writing is historically “a good.” I notice that in my relationship with written word, reading is consistently a cathartic process while writing is, more often than not, a chore. Only recently am I coming to understand the cathartic usefulness of writing, an understanding that is a direct result of being instructed in the subject.

Brandt notes the importance and benefits of writing instruction; one of her interviewees explains that writing “crystallizes you. It crystallizes your thought” (170). Receiving instruction in writing-specific classes is helping me consider myself as a writer. Brandt also notes the changing effects of writing, specifically in the workplace, and how writing can also be used for the purpose of “being good.” I notice that over the course of the development of my writing career, writing was usually a “good” to be exchanged with my professors for a grade. However, when writing is used as a method to bring moral good to a student rather than to require a good from him or her, writing becomes something I enjoy doing. The only way I can see this happening is if the grade exchange becomes unimportant to the writing process. As a result, I really enjoy the gamified structure of the writing minor program.

I think another reason I have a hard time considering myself a writer has to do with the fact that I don’t feel confident in writing on any subject other than myself. Ann M. Penrose and Cheryl Giesler raise this issue in their article “Reading and Writing without Authority;” they “argue for the role of rhetorical knowledge in the development of authority” (517). I identify with Janet’s struggle to “take authority” and in order to write with authority, I need to understand that “there is authority to spare” (517) in the literary conversations on every topic under the sun. Realizing that my voice is a part of these conversations will allow me to write with confidence and self-asserted authority on topics other than myself.

3 thoughts to “I Am Definitely A Reader”

  1. Hey Rachel!

    I really identified with your post, in that I too consider myself far more of a reader than a writer. I think that on the whole, it’s so much easier for us to admit that we love to read because that’s a personal hobby, whereas admitting to someone that you’re a writer sets so many expectations. This definitely relates to the idea of “being good” versus “a good” as you mentioned in your post. I definitely wish more professors understood writing in terms of moral goods rather than an object to be graded. It makes it so much harder to add in any type of personality or relief, which is what good writing requires. Thankfully, we get to enjoy our lovely gamified class for at least a little while!

  2. Rachel,
    I thought this was a very fascinating post. I have never considered myself “a good reader”, so it was interesting to see the perspective of “a good reader.” Although I have never identified as a “good reader,” I have always identified as a “good writer.” I think it is interesting that you were told that you would be a good writer because you were good at reading because I never really saw the two as linked until recently.
    Although having my papers graded never bothered me, I agree that there is so much less pressure when the pressure of grading isn’t there. I have actually found that I try harder on our assignments with this gamified class than I have in my past English classes at the University. It is nice to have a little bit of freedom!

  3. Thought this was a very interesting piece to read, especially given your thoughts on being a reader as opposed to more of a writer. I think for me personally over time I’ve shifted from more of a reader to a writer, but I would still personally rather verbally speak or talk. In my writing I definitely know the feeling of struggling with the idea of authority, and I think there isa line to toe when it comes to the whole concept of “authority to spare” and making sure that your own voice is the dominant feature of whatever you’re writing. Also, I know the all too familiar feeling of writing seeming like a chore, but I guess it’s all part of the process, right?

Leave a Reply