“This is a conception of “reading” we rarely hear now. And yet, when you practise reading, when you spend time with a book, the old moral of effort and reward is undeniable. Reading is a skill and an art and readers should take pride in their abilities and have no shame in cultivating them if for no other reason than the fact that writers need you. To respond to the ideal writer takes an ideal reader, the type of reader who is open enough to allow into their own mind a picture of human consciousness so radically different from their own as to be almost offensive to reason. The ideal reader steps up to the plate of the writer’s style so that together writer and reader might hit the ball out of the park.” – Zadie Smith, “Fail Better/Read Better”
I was prepared to write a big long post about how writers should be writing and what mistakes I make when I try to write and how I can correct those mistakes.
But then I read this passage and thought, “Well, maybe I should just let everyone read it themselves.”
Reading is as much of an art as writing. And good reading is as finely honed a skill as good writing.
Check out the entire Zadie Smith two-part article: Fail Better and Read Better. It’s a little heady at times. But it’s a good look at why good writers succeed and false writers fail. More importantly, see how it doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoy and appreciate every word of what you’re reading.