One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment.
– Hart Crane, poet
For as long as I have been actively practicing writing, the relationship between reading and writing has been a consistent one. Periods in which I read vigorously were periods that I wrote vigorously. The months I read little were months that little was produced. One of the books that inspired my return to leisure reading was Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, in which Miller proposes that one must burrow into life again in order to put on flesh.
Burrowing into books has always felt like putting on flesh; developing a renewed love for language, an enhanced appreciation of human expression. All the flesh gained through avid reading. To be enriched in this way is a natural catalyst to write, and to write passionately. In this way, to be drenched in the writing of others, literally soaked in them, is so fundamentally important to the health of a writer’s creative spirit.
In an upcoming series entitled Reading for Writing, I explore my own burrowing in an attempt to expose the flesh I have put on since I began my written life.