I currently have a child in fourth grade, and a big part of his reading and writing curriculum is “purpose.” He is being taught, as many or all of us have been, that pieces are written either to persuade, instruct, explain or entertain. I guess that’s more or less true…though most written works do more than one at a time. As I read the short pieces that are used to demonstrate and test this lesson, I often wonder which kind of writing is my favorite.
Okay. I don’t wonder. I actually stand there thinking, “I really only want to read the entertaining kind.” I like to learn new things, but I don’t really want to be told what I have to do or even what I ought to do. I’m a bit on the rebellious, independent side…for those of you who hadn’t noticed…all none of you. So, instructional books or articles are right out. Persuasive ones make me argumentative, but since there is no one to actually argue into submission, those are no fun either. Explanatory pieces have their place…I read those when I want to know how to do something. But that’s a task, not a diversion. I want to read a narrative about interesting people doing interesting things. Yes. I am a literary hedonist. And a lazy one at that: I like to be able to read quickly. I read almost no non-fiction. Notable exceptions: the Bible, dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, and the occasional biography or memoir. Yep. If it’s about words or people, I’m likely to get lost in it even if it is, gasp, true. (As an aside, I don’t want to argue about the veracity of the Bible, ‘kay? Lots of people already do that. This isn’t the place.)
So. What is this the place for? Well, for me to point out my own true story, of course! I read fiction about fantastic creatures and mythical beings, about inscrutable mysteries solved by intrepid men and women, and about improbably attractive, wealthy people meeting impossibly perfect soul-mates and resolving implausibly ridiculous conflicts. What do I write? Nonfiction. Seriously. How did this happen? I feel like Anne Shirley in the L.M. Montgomery stories: I only want to write dramatic fictional masterpieces. I only manage to write amusing vignettes from my own life. And…she did it so much better than I do. I am as chagrined as she was. (As another aside, if my vignettes aren’t amusing…well, just don’t tell me. I’m sensitive.) I am finding, though, that writing begets writing. So maybe. Someday. If you ever see a book by Lydia Wyn…or, if it’s a really embarrassing book, Wyn Vacheresse…. There…two pen names outed and ruined.
But, really, why do you read? If you write too, do you write things that you would want to read? If not, whew! If so, what is wrong with me?