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Analyze that Quote: Joseph Conrad

Who’s ready for some learning time? I love dissecting quotes, and the extrovert in me enjoys typing it out, since I’d rather output that ruminate in my head. Probably why I’m a writer, ha.

A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer.
– Joseph Conrad

This quote makes me want to stamp my feet, wave a flag and point furiously at it, simply due to how important a point I think it communicates. Joseph Conrad’s words aren’t difficult to process and the message is a straightforward, but important one.

I’ve stated this before, but writing teaches empathy, and many writers happen to be avid readers, and have been for a long time. Empathy is a key component in being a writer, and I believe probably the number one reason I was always interested in writing. I love connecting to people, and examining life through different perspectives than my own. It is so. very. important. as a society that we have this ability. Unfortunately, with decline in readers, and most people buried in their phones, empathy is hard to come by these days.

All the more reason why books are important, right?

Back on topic though, I can’t imagine being a writer if you don’t care about people. People should fascinate you, scintillate you, and inspire you. Whether you’ve seen humanity at its worst, or its best, human beings and their unique problems tend to dominate the mind of a writer. I’ve met plenty of people who can’t empathize. Who don’t care about others. Let me tell you, never in a million years would I want to read anything they write.

After all, how dull and boring would it be to not feel? To not care? To not long for something different, or a better place, or have the suffering of others inspire inside yourself such a mighty rage that burns for a lifetime?

So yes, I do believe this is important advice.

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The Power of Books

So, I just finished reading Odd Thomas for the Caffeine Crew Book Club, even wrote a review up over here. That was a book that made my heart hurt–and GOD, I love that. Beyond any crazy twists and gimmicks (while I sometimes find them exhilarating in a whole different way), nothing makes me remember a book like the characters. Give me a character to remember, one that struggles and fights despite the overwhelming circumstances and odds against them. One that lives despite tragedy, or cares too deeply. One who’s unafraid to bare their soul, or too afraid, and terrified of getting hurt.

I see so many posts about how people are disgusting, or the worst. And yes, there exist some pretty terrible individuals. But in this era of social media, it’s so easy to dehumanize people. It’s so easy to forget that there’s a human being behind the screen, that the username has a story, and that they’re struggling to survive, and live, just like the rest of us.

Here’s where books come in. They’re a reminder, people. They’re a reminder why humankind can be amazing. Why people are worth believing in, and also a lesson on how circumstances and life can build folks up or destroy them. I want to read books that make my heart hurt, and make me love our species. I want to care about the individual, not statistics, or data.

Hence why I always read.

Posted in Articles

Importance of Reading in Writing

I’ve always leaned towards fantasy in my writing, and obviously magic, witches, and dragons aren’t things I can tap into real life experience for. Hell, even some of the emotional experiences my characters go through (losing a father figure, extreme danger at the hands of monsters) aren’t something I’ve experienced. So I rely heavily on an overactive imagination and a really strong sense of empathy.

Our society is immersed in flashy articles, internet communications and multimedia, but we’re detached from each other. We watch and absorb, but how often do we process? In school we’re taught to analytically process, but not emotionally. We’re not taught to empathize and the further we delve into our electronic world of today, the further we separate from the pathos that makes us human.

Now, I know everyone’s grown into different situations and they shape us, create our worldviews and opinions because of them. However, reading is one of the few things that can truly bring us together. Growing up, I read about heroes who were brave, who were scared, who had daddy issues, or struggled with their choices the same as I might. I’ve read characters who were polyamorous, assassins who were forced to kill due to bad situations, and people struggling with racism–whether it be our own society or some fantasy setting. All of these new perspectives forced me to look at people in different ways and reach outside of my own life to grasp what others might go through, or how I might’ve changed given my own situation.

We live in a world where we can flick on the TV and watch actors cry, fight, anything. And maybe, it will stir some pathos in us, particularly the people who are already open to it. But nothing expands worldview like sitting down and reading. Putting yourself in someone else’s head for awhile and living life through their eyes. That, my friends, is empathy.

And empathy? That’s how you create the most realistic characters in your writing and live a thousand lives.