Entering a New World: Reading or Writing?

Saturday, April 30, 2011
When I was a child, I used to marvel at my father: I could be standing a few feet away from him and he wouldn't acknowledge that I was in the room (or maybe that there was a raging blizzard outside). Of course, it was because he had a book in his hands. Perhaps medical emergencies might have roused him from his reading, but I have yet to test out that theory.
Fast forward several more decades and, low and behold, my oldest daughter has become as focused a reader as my father. (Or she's turned on her selective hearing and will continue reading if the words "clean your room" hang in the air versus "as much ice cream as you can eat.")
I consider myself a voracious reader (as much as one can working, writing, and performing my many required motherly duties). But I've never been able to tune out my surroundings and enter a new world through books. Sure, I get involved in my reading whether it's a collection of short stories or my favorite magazines. But I've never been able to tune out my surroundings.
Well, never when reading. But I do have a strong focus when I'm writing. Time rushes past. My husband can run errands or rearrange the furniture and, while I may recognize there is a rumble surrounding me (I may even engage with him, a bit). But ask me a couple hours later and I've been so focused in my writing that the time has bounded past.
It's the passion for the world I'm writing that consumes my focus. Watch out, however, when something doesn't engage my writing interest. Not only do I lose my focus, but I tend to doubt the value of that writing. I treasure the writing that can transport me.

So, do you find you can enter a new world (void of distractions of daily life) with you reading, writing or both? And how would the "eat as much ice cream as you want" work with you?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in coastal North Carolina.


Kristi's Book Nook said...

Good question. I keep my focus with music. When I am writing or reading, one good way for me to avoid distractions and really get into what I am doing is by listening to jazz, classical guitar, bossa nova, and especially Miles Davis. Thanks.

hkhagan said...

Sometimes a person can be talking to me directly to me and I can’t hear a word they are saying. Most often this is my soon to be husband. I’m either reading a good book or writing something and I’m completely absorbed. I’ve been told that there are some people who do not ‘see’ what they are reading with their minds eye. It’s the ability to see what I’m reading or writing that I enjoy most about both and that keep me so completely absorbed.

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