Reading As An Act Of Creation

The written word is a wonderful thing. It can be both beautiful and horrible, even within the same sentence. As readers we tend to think of authors and writers as the creators of the worlds within books, however, the reader has their role to play as well.

While a lot of the heavy lifting is done by authors when they sit down and pour out, or grind out as the case may be, the words, paragraphs, and chapters of the multitude of books so readily available today. They think and they sweat, they worry and they fret, and at the last they edit and rewrite until they have woven a story that they, or their editors, feel is ready to be released into the wild to be devoured by readers.

Hopefully, the author has done a competent enough job that people are willing to spend their time and money to read what they’ve written. But what is the reader’s responsibility in all this? The reader must be fertile ground for the author’s seed, and like all fertile ground it must be treated and worked with care.

A reader must have an open mind. Open to new things. Things that may be uncomfortable to read. If we remain open then we expand our horizons and are open to even more things. The cycle of growth will continue as long as we allow it. This is how a reader works the fertile field of their mind.

We as readers, if we’ve done the necessary work, shouldn’t need an author to bludgeon us over the head with endless exposition and needless detail. If we’ve opened ourselves up to a wide range of topics and ideas, then the author can take the role of guide, and leave the readers fill in the fine details and create as much, if not more, of the story that the author intended.

When a story comes alive in our minds there is no question that the author leads us, but without an active and playful imagination, readers wouldn’t be able to add their own flourishes to a story. And every reader does add something of their own to any story. If you ask two people about a book you will almost certainly get two similar, but slightly differing views. The readers have created slightly different worlds that the story describes. This is a natural and good thing.

Reading, while a solitary activity, actually connects humanity on a much more personal and emotional level than just about any other activity. Readers can share experiences and feelings that cross national, cultural, and linguistic (if translated by someone other than a raving lunatic) barriers.

The creation of unique worlds based on the same set of words can lead readers to new ways of looking at the world and new points of view. Perhaps ones that are in contrast to those previously held. And with the way the world is being directed today, new ideas and points of view are more desperately needed now than ever.

I’m grateful for all the work authors have done in creating new and interesting stories and worlds for me to enjoy. However, I do know that allowing my imagination to build upon those words has given me a better and fuller understanding of their worlds and our own.

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