I’ve always loved reading, as long as I can remember. I’m the kind of person that reads constantly, whether it’s a book or a newspaper or just a poster or a sign on the side of the street. I consume words because I love knowing things, and written words are the most widespread, easily accessible source of knowledge. But beyond that, I love reading other people’s writing. I think there’s something that goes into a piece of fiction or especially creative non-fiction that tells you more about a person than you could ever learn from sitting down and having a conversation with them.
And people are fascinating to me. I relish every chance I have to really get to know someone, to hear their stories and their thoughts about life. I love when someone I’ve known for a long time tells me something about themselves that I had never heard before. And because writing gives such a unique look into the writer, I feel like after reading an excellent book, I know the author a little bit. And then if I read another book by them, I know them a bit more. So it’s this journey of discovering another person through the little bits and pieces that they share.
The popular expression is to “write what you know.” I think that’s a bit of a misnomer, because it’s impossible to write what you don’t know. I think it should really be “write what you know best.” I don’t think anyone would enjoy a story I wrote about a character who is a dancer or a soccer fan or whatever, because I don’t really know anything about dancing or soccer. But almost all my stories are about characters that are alone, whether that’s a physical proximity from other people or just a sense of being lonely. That’s something I know a lot about. I can reflect on and explain loneliness. So I think (hope) people enjoy reading my stories, because they seem true and real and they’re a little part of me.
I’ve taken several creative writing courses in university, and they’re some of my favorite classes ever. Partly because I enjoy writing and going through the process of becoming a better writer, but mostly because I get to read other people’s stories. And when I read someone’s story they become more than just a friend or a classmate or a person I recognize from four years of school together. They become someone I know and I understand a little better. And conversely, they all know and understand me better than any of my classmates from other courses.
I’ve never wanted to be a writer, but I hope that I’m always able to write, and to read, and to connect with people through writing and reading.