Writing in a World Wherein Nobody Wants to Read

A writer does not lead a coveted lifestyle.  A writer’s life is messy and full of mistakes.  Drafts after drafts after drafts, and I don’t mean beer (well, maybe sometimes).  To be a writer is to fail over and over again.  The best writers are the masters of failure.  Learning from failure, in all facets of life, is what helps us grow and improve ourselves and our crafts.  However, with a piece of written work, there is never perfection.  There is nothing even remotely resembling perfection.  Perfection is a thing that was once thought to be attainable, but with each attempt becomes less and less of a reality, and more like a fairy-tale.  If that is not hard enough; if never truly being able to say that what you have done is the best you can do is not enough: nowadays people do not read.  Not only that, but folks of my generation would go as far to say that they “hate” reading.  This is incredibly upsetting, even depressing.  In a world that doesn’t read, how can writing be of any substance?

What is the definition of the word hate?  Webster describes is as “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.”  This is saying that it is not as simple as people simply finding reading difficult or boring: it is saying that people are made afraid and even angry by reading.  How can this be?  How have we drifted so far where literacy is no longer coveted.  Hundreds of years ago, the ability to read was a sought after skill.  Only the upper class and the high born people could read and were considered “learned.”  Now with public education nearly everyone has the ability to read, but ironically, people take it for granted and do not enjoy using the skill.  Has this contributed to the hatred of cracking a good book?  I say no.

I believe the root of the evil is the technology and more importantly, the pace of the time in which we live.  First, technology such as the internet, computers, and smartphones has made it less of a necessity to know how to read.  They do much of the reading for us.  They guide us to the right sites where the information is presented in the shortest of summaries possible.  Information is at our fingertips, it is not necessary to read about things and retain information anymore.  But something being unnecessary does not necessarily mean that we should do it.  Many things are unnecessary.  Bathing regularly is unnecessary, but we do it because it is unhealthy not to.  Going outside isn’t necessary, however it is for our benefit to get fresh air regularly.  Reading, and more specifically reading for pleasure or for personal knowledge gaining, is not necessary, but it is unhealthy not to read.

Secondly, the pace of society has contributed to the lack of interest in reading.  Today, everything is about speed.  How fast can we do something and do it right?  How efficient can we be?  If something takes too long, we immediately rule it out as an option.  However this mindset came about is not clear to me (I believe that technology plays a part).  Instant gratification is what every single person desires.  Nobody wants to put in time in order to achieve a goal, they want the end result with as little time elapsed as possible.  For this reason mainly do people not enjoy reading anymore.  It takes too long.  Or so they think.  They look at a book and see that it is 400 pages long.  “400 pages!?” they’ll say “that will take me a lifetime to read, no way! I’ll just watch the movie.”  “Read this magazine, why?” they’ll say, “the same information is in this television special.”  In reality, in order to get through a book only takes about a half hour each day, and once you get engrossed the time flies by (much like when watching a movie or television special).  How is this half hour any different from the hours that folks spend in front of the TV or gaming device or smart phone?  The only difference is reading increases intelligence, increases knowledge, and is better for your eyes.  There is nothing quite like getting into a good book.  Nothing is set in stone, everyone’s experience with a book is different.  That is what makes the experience beautiful.

So back to the topic: how does this effect the writer?  The writer is faced with a daunting task, a task more daunting than writing itself.  He or she must write to an audience that truly would rather be doing something else.  Anything else than be wasting time reading.  The writer must try to engage someone who truly does not want to be engaged.  A good book can only be read and enjoyed if it is opened.  Somehow we must reopen books.  The love of reading must be instilled once more.  For the sake of future generations, and for the sake of writers everywhere.  So, if you have read this all the way through, thank you.  You have done and are doing something that is dying in our society.  Let’s revitalize reading.


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