Reading and writing

“Too much reading is just frustrated writing.” ~Samantha Bennett

The quote above arrived in an email this morning. It was an ironic quote to read on a day that I dedicated to reading. I read two (borrowed) books in their entirety, finished off the last third or so of another book, and am working on a fourth book. All in all, a very delightful way to spend the day!

While I have experienced times when my reading is “frustrated writing,” today’s reading was different. Sometimes reading becomes fuel for my writing. (It’s no coincidence that I sometimes refer to “devouring” books. It’s much like food for the mind!)

When do not make enough time for reading deeply, my writing well tends to run dry. I run out of ideas, and the words become dry and lifeless. I need the outside input of other writers’ thoughts and words to stretch my mind into new territory in order to find new things to write about.

The challenge is in finding the right things to read that help me learn new things and provoke new ideas of things I want to say. Sometimes I read things that inspire me or teach me new things, but don’t spark anything in me that I feel qualified or suited to comment on. The experience of reading was complete in itself, and there is nothing I feel the need to add.

Other times, though, the reading gives me new ideas to wrestle with. Whatever I have read stays with me and I find myself chews on it long after the book has been put away. Those are the books that prompt my own writing as I use it to figure out what I really think about whatever I’ve read.

Today’s reading (all theology based) falls in that latter category. It’s given me much to think about and wrestle with, and yet I find that my theological vocabulary is still quite lacking. Even as I ponder all that I’ve read, I find it difficult to put my thoughts into coherent words. The words I know seem too limited for what I am trying to express. Perhaps that’s always how it is when we try to speak of the Divine that is more than our minds can adequately grasp.

But despite my struggle with finding the right words, I am feeling like my tank has been refilled tonight after a day spent in the company of the thoughts of others. It’s a sumptuous feeling.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

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