Reading and Writing Need The Same Place

First of all, Happy Easter. I’ve already opened and eaten my Easter egg, because chocolate is lovely and I have very little self control.

I realised today, as I wandered along, thinking about what to read, that my perfect conditions for reading are the same as my perfect conditions for writing.

When I lived with someone, I didn’t read much, because someone was always there, demanding my attention, asking me to put the book down to make dinner, or watch a TV programme or just ‘be sociable’. I didn’t write much either.

I can read on the bus, or the coffee shop. But it mustn’t be a book I want to lose myself in. It must be a book that I can look away from if something interesting happens. A book of short stories, or a non-fiction book. When I write in a coffee shop, it has to be the third or fourth draft, where I am mostly cleaning up mistakes and checking continuity. I can do this at home too, with the news on, or the radio.

But if I want to lose myself in a book I have to be alone. I must be alone and silent. Occasionally I find a book that I want to sink into. There must be no distractions, no chance of distraction. I have to be able to become so much a part of the story I can smell the air of the street they walk down. And when I write the first draft, it’s the same. I must be alone and silent.

Maybe when I write and read, I’m putting myself in the same state of mind, which is why I need the same conditions. In one state I am creating the story, in the other I am accessing someone else’s story. But perhaps, in the right conditions, the lines between their story and my story can become a little blurred.


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