Why are we reading? What readers do we write for? And why, and how?
It isn’t just in hopes the writer will magnify my days and inspire me with wisdom, sometimes books take the place of television for me, and I look for the literary version of reality t.v., sometimes reading takes the place of sleep and I want to recreate my dreams – mysterious and surreal, sometimes I really am looking for illuminating, life-lifting beauty and meaningfulness. Am I too fickle a reader or am I indicative of the norm?
Why do we do anything, really?
That’s not a fit of existential angst, that’s an honest answer. I read for more or less precisely the same reasons I do anything else. Because I want to, or have to, or am getting paid to, or might get paid eventually. Or because of the company I’m with. Or because I want to learn something new, or revisit something old. I want to be frightened, or soothed, or contented. I want to improve myself, or I want to put myself to sleep.
We live in a happy enough word that reading can just be part of what we do everyday.
Reading is another part of life. And that’s a very good thing.
As to who do we write for—we write for readers. We write for the people who will read our writing. We don’t always know who that will be. It might be our friends and family, if our writing is our hobby. It might be people we never even thought would like our books, if our writing is a career. It might be people centuries later living in a civilisation we can only dream of, if our writing is either loved enough or archived well enough to be preserved.
We write for other people, other living people who read. It’s as simple as that.
This deeply moving reflection from the marvellous Katherine Langrish, a friend of this blog, is perhaps the best possible answer to why we write, and read.