This summer I’ve asked two friends of mine, who write stories, to send me their work. I have this new bookshelf filled with novels I wanna read, but I am taking the time to read my friends’ work instead. Why? Well, because it’s more rewarding.
When reading another writer’s work, who isn’t published, or famous, I read it with a different intention. I become more critical of their words. I guess there is a section of my brain that assumes that published work is perfect, cause why else would it be published? Yes, this is arguable, but tell that to the section of my brain and not me.
I look for mistakes. I look for broken rules (even though I stated in my post ‘Crux It!‘ that I do not believe in abiding the rules the writerly world makes up). Most importantly, I compare what I have written (mentally) to their work. I find that writers at my level, or around my level, make the same mistakes I do. The problems with my own writing become more apparent. Another section of my brain is probably matching patterns it sees, and raising little red flags.
“Hey, hey there, you did this too, you know,” that section of the brain will say.
“Thanks brain!” And then we high five.
This is why I used to spend most of my reading hours in the critique sections of writer forums. Now I prefer to build relationships with writers one-on-one, considering connections and relationships are a commodity these days. Yet I don’t think I even do it for that reason, no, I do it because I want to pay it forward. I ask friends and work-mates to read my blog, to read my stories, and it would be selfish of me to not return the favor to the writers I know.
That in itself is the most rewarding thing of reading other writer’s work. The knowingness that I am helping someone else out, that I am (I hope) boosting their own writer self-esteem.