Last week, we read Teirny and Pearson’s article, “Toward a Composing Model of Reading,” which emphasized the idea that there is a symbiotic relationship between reading and writing as composition in a piece of work. The article further reflects the idea that reading and writing use each other to construct meaning through a five-step process. Although this article was pretty straight forward, I started to think about my own writing and how it impacts my readers, as well as myself. In my “Why I Write” essay, I write “But most of the time I’m not thinking of other people when I write. Although I write stories to entertain people and write to spread meaningful messages, I write [most of the time] for selfish reasons.” As I read Teirny and Pearson, I started to reconsider these lines and wonder if I’ve ever considered the reader when writing an essay. Of course I have, right? With any academic paper, I am forced to choose an audience (usually my professor) and consider that audience when stringing my sentences together. In journalistic writing, I’m supposed to do that too–find an audience, and cater to them. But in personal writing, aren’t I the audience? If I’m writing in a journal, [i hope] I’m the only one that’s going to see it. So does that mean that I’m the writer and the reader? A piece of [good] writing should enact some sort of change in mind from both the writer and the reader. As the reader goes on a journey through a piece of reading, so does a writer, and vice versa. Maybe this means making more of a conscious effort to find a balance between thinking as a reader and thinking as a writer when I write stories or essay.
I would consider myself a better writer than reader. In fact, I can’t even call myself a critical reader. I often start books and rarely finish them, even if I’m intrigued by the plotline. I don’t mean to fall into this habit; it kind of just happens. Honestly, I find this a bit ironic and hypocritical because scholars always say, “In order to become a better writer, you have to become a better reader” (or at least that’s what I think they say). Haas and Flower’s “Rhetorical Reading Strategies and the Construction of Meaning” really speaks to this idea by noting how easy it is to read a piece of writing, without actually grasping the words or meaning. However, there is always a deeper meaning present that we just seem to miss. I can totally relate to this because I so often find myself reading words on a page, but simultaneously thinking about a million other things, such as my plans for the day, what I’m going to eat for my next meal, or what I have to do when I finish this reading. It takes me double the time to read something for class than the average person because I really need to concentrate on the words.
At one point last semester, my English teacher asked me how I liked to read. I responded, “I can only read when it’s completely silent, with a slight whisper. I like to read out loud, it’s the only way I can really understand the words.” My professor then replied, “Wow, so you must be a really slow reader, right?” Although I’m not proud of this confession, it is the stark truth. And as a result, I refrain from reading (which I understand is always really ironic, as the only way to get better is by practicing.) When reading from now on, I should really consider Haas and Flower’s idea about constructing meaning as a reader because as a writer, that’s what I hope my audience does.
Every year, my New Years resolution is to read more. Seeing how it’s only February, let’s see if I can finally make my promise come true.