For most writers, our passion for words stems from a love of reading. I can still remember being curled up on my grandparent’s bed while my mother read to me from a Richard Scarry storybook, pages fading and the cover ripped clean from the binding. Books were my first love and yet, the more I write these days, the less time I seem to have to do the one thing that inspired me in the first place.
I miss reading. I miss having a nightstand full of books. I miss having a place to run when life got hard and the world felt too big. I miss learning. I miss feeling like I’m not alone. I miss feeling.
I didn’t mean to abandon books; I hadn’t even realized I had until my own writing recently grew stale. I’m not naive. I know how important it is for a writer to read, and yet every time I’ve had a free half hour here or a free day there, when I have to choose, I always choose writing. Because I have deadlines. Because I have plans. Because if I want writing to be my livelihood then I have to make sacrifices.
But what I failed to acknowledge is that, for a writer, opening up a book is not the same thing as reaching for the remote. Reading may feel like some kind of reward, and when you love it, it is. But that’s not all it is. Reading is a training ground. It’s where us writers go to sharpen our skills and pick up new ones. It’s where we go to marvel at the genius of our peers and feel inspired.
Reading and writing don’t exist on opposite ends of a creative spectrum but they should be intertwined–one unable to sustain itself without the other. I can feel it in my writing, my words wilting without the proper foundation. Because I haven’t been reading as much as I should. I haven’t been letting myself. But here and now I am finally giving myself permission. To read. To explore. To indulge in the very thing that made me fall in love with words in the first place. To close the laptop, curl up on the couch with a book against my knees, and keep growing.