Reading into Writing Will Go by Allison Symes

Image Credit:  Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Those of you of a certain age will recognize the “will go” element of my title as part of the way we were taught Maths (division) in the 1970s. Without a love of stories, which comes from a love of reading, a love to write will be hard to develop. It will be even harder to maintain.

I should have realised the writing life was beckoning me sooner than I did. I loved “composition” lessons during English where we had to invent stories. It was even better when the teacher didn’t set a theme. To this day I prefer open-ended writing competitions! My colleagues all groaned when told to do this. I couldn’t wait to get started. 


There were also SRA cards which were colour-coded depending on how well you could read. On one side was the story. On the other were questions about the story. Loved those. Story analysis right there at junior school level! I just didn’t realise it. Breaking down what makes a story work has helped me with my own writing (and will continue to do so).

So reading for pleasure at an early age did kick start a love of writing stories though it hadn’t occurred to me I could keep on doing that after I left school! 

 

It took a major birthday (30) and a life event (birth of my son) to make me realise if I was going to make the old dream of becoming a writer happen, I should sit and write! (My favourite Wodehouse quote on writing is to “apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair”. You can’t argue with that!)

 

I was late to the writing party then but that early reading (encouraged by my late mother) gave me a solid foundation. You take in how stories work, what books are meant to look like, how dialogue is set out etc by reading. 

 

You also learn to spot what is wrong. I’ve recently finished reading Richard Osman’s first book and loved it but there were dreadful proofreading errors. Words were split at line endings which should never have been split. I thought he was let down. 

It is particularly annoying when this happens with a big name writer and/or publisher. I’m with an indie press but we all know the importance of making our work as perfect as it can be to give it any chance in the big, bad world.  

 

It is the self published who can be looked down on - yet a book can go out in the public domain, produced by a big publisher, and it is riddled with errors. Anyone else want to scream at this point? (Incidentally, the odd error I could’ve understood but there were loads. I just wanted to get my red pen out. The story itself is wonderful, which makes this worse). 

Oh well, time to get back to the reading and writing then.  


Comments

Susan Price said…
"I loved “composition” lessons during English where we had to invent stories. It was even better when the teacher didn’t set a theme. To this day I prefer open-ended writing competitions! My colleagues all groaned when told to do this. I couldn’t wait to get started."

That could be me writing!
Allison Symes said…
Thanks, Susan. I was blessed with great English teachers (and my mum) who did so much to encourage the love of the written word. Looking back, what bemuses me is why I didn't realise I could keep on inventing stories AFTER I left school!
Susan Price said…
Snap! When we moved into 4th year, English lessons shifted from 'composition' to 'literature.' I stumped about for weeks grumbling that I wasn't getting to write stories any more. My Mum said, 'Why don't you buy yourself an exercise book and write them for yourself, at home?'
Revelation!
Wendy H. Jones said…
Being schooled in Scotland mean that we continued with both English Language and English Literature for our whole schooling. No split. That was heaven for me. I agree with you're grammar and spelling mistakes in books brought out by the big publishers. I once grabbed a book at an Airport Bookshop in America, done so in a hurry as I was catching a plane. It was by a big name author whose books I love. There were five spelling and grammar mistakes on the first page. I kid you not. Definitely let down by the publisher

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