Reading + Ideas = Writing

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I know normally I spend Friday posting an excerpt from Forbidden: Amira’s Journey, but today I’m shaking it up. You never know what to expect from me! Today I’m going to talk about the necessity of reading, in general and for writing. You have to read to be able to learn how these things are done, just like following instructions when you are putting together a book shelf. These things are important or your bookshelf will fall apart, just like your manuscript might.

I grew up on a farm in the absolute middle of nowhere. I was the only girl and had two brothers. Lets just say I spent a lot of time playing dolls (because back then we still played with actual toys) by myself. This is when I found reading. I was able to go anywhere and escape the lonely life of living in the middle of nowhere. There were places to explore and people to meet.

My first obsession was Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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I read these books until the covers fell off.  I got the entire set for my birthday when I was in fourth of fifth grade. I would read the entire series and then start over. It gave me the companionship of another female and also I could be transported back to a time that I thought was very interesting. Little did I know, it would feed my love of history and I would later get a degree in history, but that is skipping too far into the future.

Judy Blume was up next.

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If you were a kid in grade school during the 80s, especially a girl, Judy Blume was the hottest thing ever. She was our J.K. Rowling. This book particularly was very fundamental in my life. I was a fat kid. So not only did I live in the middle of nowhere, but I was fat. This book made me feel like there were other people who understood the name calling and terrible feelings. In some ways, reading Judy Blume helped me to understand the crafting of characters and how people in books were just like me. It also made me acutely aware of how I treated other people. I read many of Blume’s books, getting them after putting my name on the waiting list at the library at school. She was instrumental in my childhood and I still think about those books frequently.

The next group of books was something my mother recommended to me. My mother was a high school English teacher. She taught for 30 years and her love of the written word and literature is something I only now appreciate. She suggested early in my grade school career that I read Madeleine L’Engle.

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A Wrinkle in Time sent my imagination soaring. I couldn’t believe there was this kind of imagination. I love the places and people this series of books helped me to meet. I blame this early exposure to my love of all things fantasy and science fiction. I wanted to visit other worlds and see things no one else would believe. I was thankful there was a place in my mind where I got to do just that and have read these books several times. I’m still trying to get my oldest boys to read these books, but they don’t seem interested. I want them to experience the same things I did, but it will have to be in there own time, I guess.

So why am I taking the time to talk about all these books from my childhood? I think reading is important. A world with out reading and knowledge is just a world. There is no imagination. There is no place to escape. After all what most people want is a place to get away and by checking books out at the library, you can do that for free. FREE! I can’t say it enough.

I live in a very small town. If I tell you how small, you will laugh. Okay, I’ll tell you how small…..I live in a county (an entire county) that only has one high school and no traffic lights. NO TRAFFIC LIGHTS!!!!!! The one thing we are not lacking is an AMAZING library. Our library director, and all those who serve on the board and work there, are dedicated to making the library the center of the town’s activity. This library has about 40,000 items in circulation. Let me put that in perspective. That is approximately 5 circulation items per person in the entire county! The ENTIRE COUNTY! That is a bitchin library. So I spend many days there lazily looking through the stacks and finding something to read.

You can’t be a writer if you don’t read. It’s like trying to bake a cake and never looking at a recipe. You have to see how words are put together and you have to immerse yourself in the craft. I try not to read while I’m writing, but when I’m done…WATCH OUT! I’m not a fast reader either, but I still think it’s one of the most amazing activities we can engage in.

So that is my story. I love to read and I have since I was a child. I also love to write and want to create that kind of experience for other people. I want them to fall in love with my characters and love them the way I have loved other people’s characters. I want to make a statement that might just change someone’s life or maybe their opinion.

Until next time remember, The Community is watching!

Follow me on facebook at LJ Fleming.

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